Auto Electronics

Under the Hood of the 2006 Pontiac Solstice

When it goes into production later this year, the 2006 Pontiac Solstice will join more than 50 GM models that are equipped with the OnStar telematics system. The OnStar system recently won the Best Embedded/Terminal Product award at Telematics Update Detroit 2005. Judges selected the unit for features such as automatic crash notification, hands-free calling, and user-friendly three-button interface. OnStar has more than two million subscribers making it the leading provider of telematics services in the United States.

The 2006 Pontiac Solstice, a strikingly stylish two-seat roadster, comes standard with a 2.4-liter, 177 hp four-cylinder dual-overhead cam engine, five-speed manual transmission, and the OnStar system with one year of OnStar service.

The OnStar cellular system requires a service contract for different services. The Safe & Sound Plan includes automatic notification of air bag deployment, emergency services, roadside assistance, stolen vehicle tracking, AccidentAssist, remote door unlock, remote diagnostics, online concierge and remote horn and lights. Another plan provides voice-activated, hands-free calling with personal calling, and location-based traffic and weather reports with Virtual Advisor.

The global positioning system (GPS) in the OnStar module automatically provides the vehicle's location for many services such as stolen vehicle tracking and location-based traffic and weather reports.

With the Safe & Sound plan, in the event of a moderate to severe crash, OnStar automatically sends a message to the OnStar call center. The airbag system's sensing and diagnostic module communicates with the OnStar module based on data from an internal accelerometer, which determines the crash severity, as well as input from front and side accelerometers for the air bag system.

The telematics system's three-button interface consists of On*, + (emergency) and · (personal calling and Virtual Advisor) buttons. Pressing On* connects the user to an OnStar advisor for roadside assistance, remote diagnostics and other requests. The emergency button connects the user to an OnStar advisor and the call has top priority within the system. The · button provides hands-free calling and requires prepaid calling minutes from OnStar. In addition, this button initiates a dialog with the system.

CAN WE TALK?

Voice commands for the system include one- or two-word commands such as call, virtual advisor, unit, add, verify, dial, store and help as well as confirmation of yes or no. Saying help at any time gets the full list of available commands.

The unit can store up to 20 name-tags for the OnStar personal calling mode. Recognizing the problems that noise can cause a speech-recognition system, OnStar recommends reducing background noise by turning down or turning off the air conditioning/heating fans as well as closing windows and the sunroof when providing input. To cope with driving noise, OnStar suggests adding a little vehicle noise in the background, such as the fan on low or the windows open when storing the name-tags while the vehicle is in park.

The OnStar system does not have a display, so spoken confirmations from the system include “connecting to OnStar,” when the On* is pressed, “connecting to OnStar emergency assistance,” when the emergency button is pressed, and “OnStar ready” as well as other responses when the · button is engaged.

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