What is AutoPi and What Does It Do?
What is AutoPi and What Does It Do?
Simply put, AutoPi makes your car more intelligent. It communicates directly with your car and performs automated functions; thereby providing a wide range of features not available in your car today.
All features and recorded data, including location tracking, is securely made remotely available and can be accessed anytime and anywhere from your computer, tablet or mobile.
AutoPi is a solution based on Raspberry Pi, but it also uses a number of other key technologies that grant users access to a wide list of functions.
Essentially, it is an Internet of Things platform for your car.
How Does AutoPi Work?
AutoPi is a small device that plugs into the OBD-II port of your car. Provided that your car was manufactured at some point after the mid-1990s, it should have an OBD-II port.
OBD stands for on-board diagnostics and it is the port your mechanic plugs into when diagnosing a problem with your car or clearing an error message (DTC).
Once connected, the AutoPi device will automatically start working. It has 3G/4G connectivity, so it can connect to the Internet, and you can connect to it wirelessly or via Bluetooth.
AutoPi also features:
- A speaker
- Two USB ports
- An HDMI port
- GPIO pins
- 4G LTE
- An internal accelerometer to give you g-force information
- GPS functionality for tracking your car’s position
Your AutoPi connects to an online dashboard that you can log into from any device – your phone, tablet, computer etc. This gives you access to the AutoPi’s settings, as well as any data that it’s capturing. This dashboard is customizable with widgets, so you can set the display to only show what you really need.
What AutoPi Can Do
You can also set triggers within your dashboard, which is where the functionality of the AutoPi really starts to come though. Triggers are based on the well-known principle of “If This, Then That”, i.e., in the event of something happening, you should take a particular action.
For example, if you’re a parent, you could set triggers that activate whenever one of your children is driving your car (the AutoPi can be extended to automatically detect who’s driving). An example of such a trigger would be programming AutoPi to send you an SMS message every time your car goes faster than a speed that you’ve pre-set. You can also set the AutoPi to sound a warning in the car so the driver knows that they should slow down. Or even to send you notifications when the seatbelt is not fastened.
Triggers are not just about getting notifications, however, as they can also perform critical actions in the car’s function. For example, you can set a trigger that activates when the AutoPi detects a situation where you brake heavily. This trigger could activate an action that automatically turns on your hazard lights to warn tailing drivers that you’ve stopped abruptly, helping to prevent anyone from rear-ending you.
The AutoPi delivers this functionality by connecting to the functions already in your car, as well as connecting to third-party devices and add-ons. Examples of this include cameras or a touchscreen etc.
A New Way of Thinking
The AutoPi represents a unique approach to accessing Internet of Things capabilities and technology in your car, since it’s an open system that is easy to extend. More specifically, the platform is open so that developers and the AutoPi community can create new extensions, features, and add-ons for the AutoPi.
This means that the feature set and potential uses of AutoPi will rapidly expand as more people use it. If you know the Python programming language, for example, you can make your AutoPi do something completely new and then make that functionality available to the rest of the AutoPi community.
It’s an intelligent way to make cars more intelligent.
Examples of Things You Can Do with AutoPi
Some of the practical uses of AutoPi have already been mentioned, particularly in relation to parental controls, but here are some of the other things AutoPi can do:
AutoPi also features:
- Protect your car against theft: you can set your AutoPi to deliver a notification every time your car starts. This could give you early warning that your car is being stolen. The AutoPi can also track the car's movements and location, even if the car is not running. See more here HERE
- Voice commands: you can easily connect a microphone to your AutoPi and then customize it to accept voice commands using Googles Cloud Speach API or similar. See more here HERE
- Connect an external camera: you can even connect an external camera to your AutoPi. In fact, this is one of the things that you can control through voice commands if you also have a microphone attached. You can set the camera to automatically take a photo or start recording when a particular event occurs. In addition, you could set the camera to monitor and recognize things like road signs, where the AutoPi gives you voice commands or sounds alarms according to your settings. See more here HERE
- Remote start: in some cars, you can set the AutoPi to remotely start the vehicle when you’re within a certain proximity to the car. You can also set up AutoPi to start the car when you click or tap a button on the dashboard. See more here HERE
- Eco driving alerts: you can set the AutoPi to monitor how the car is being driven, enabling you to change your driving behaviour to a more economical style, which saves you money. See more here HERE
- Crash protection and notifications: if your car doesn't already have crash prevention assistance, you can access this functionality with AutoPi. You will need an external proximity sensor that is then connected to the AutoPi. Following that, you can set it to sound an alarm when it detects an imminent collision. Furthermore, you can set the AutoPi to send you a notification if it detects that your car has been in a crash. This is definitely useful when other people drive your car. See more here HERE
- Remote safety monitoring: you can set the AutoPi, for example, to send you a message when your car is being driven, but the seatbelts are not being used. You can set this notification so that it only triggers when you are not driving the car. You can also set geofences, which will deliver notifications when the car is being driven in a particular location, or to warn you of erratic driving behavior. These triggers can also be set to sound warnings inside the car using AutoPi’s built-in speaker. See more here HERE
The above examples are just some of the incredible things you can do with AutoPi. With this cutting-edge technology, everything is possible.
We’re sure you have a lot of other ideas on how to use the AutoPi.io platform. Join the discussion here and tell us about your ideas.
Other blog posts for further reading
Switching from Raspberry Compute to Raspberry Zero
During the design phase of the AutoPi, it was decided to use the Raspberry Compute Module. The Raspberry Compute Module is small, versatile and expandable in a lot of ways, which suited the AutoPi project perfect. All the pinouts from the Broadcom BCM2835 processor is available through the SODIMM DDR2 interface on the Compute Module. This gave us a lot of possibilities during the design phase of the AutoPi and therefore the Compute module was an obvious choice for us as a main processor.
AutoPi: Using Raspberry Pi as a Parental Control or Teen Driver Mode
Your teenage son or daughter has just received their learners permit and you are worried about them being mature and responsible enough to use your vehicle or maybe you have friends who are irresponsible and terrible drivers. One way to ease your worries is in how AutoPi uses Raspberry Pi to make your car a carputer, basically having a computer within your car, where you can set-up limits and settings in order to control your vehicle in a Teen Driver Mode or as a Parental Control.
Saving your car interior on a hot day - Making a cabin overheating protection system using AutoPi
Studies show that on a hot summer day the temperature inside your vehicle will rise dramatically within just 10 minutes after you parked. HeatKill.org reports that with an outside temperature of 27 C (80 F), the inside temperature could rise to as high as 37 C (99 F) after just 10 minutes. The inside of your car becomes an oven roasting your interior. The sun will permanently damage the color and look of everything it touches, thereby degrading the value of your car.