OnStar heads to SXSW

General Motors has launched a unique test of its new intelligent Twitter technology in the runup to this weekend's South by Southwest festival (SXSW) in the US city of Austin, Texas.

The automaker has equipped ten vehicles from the US and Canada with special equipment that allows the vehicles and their occupant to tweet messages and their locations as they drive to Austin, Texas for the SXSW festival.

Ten teams from different parts of North America, each with four blogging participants, have been given a vehicle to drive, stopping along the way to do good deeds and raise money for a charity.

Fans of the cities, which include Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Toronto and Vancouver, can follow the teams' progress on a special website, designed to showcase the vehicles' unique abilities.

General Motors said that the Road Trip Challenge is also an opportunity for it to get first-hand feedback on new social media technologies which could be integrated into OnStar, the company's telematics and infotainment system.

Though the social media integration is an interesting example of the recent growth in in-car connectivity, equally telling is the reason why these vehicles are heading to SXSW - General Motors is set to participate in a panel discussion at a March 11 interactive event discussing the future of the "connected car."

This comes only a week after Ford CEO Alan Mulally took to the stage to discuss Ford's vision for connectivity at CeBIT, Europe's major technology conference, and is yet another example of how closely intertwined vehicles are becoming with today's communication methods such as Facebook and Twitter.

As a vehicle's connectivity steadily becomes a more important purchasing driver for vehicles, it seems that automakers are desperate  to prove that they're ahead of the curve.

Follow the progress of the vehicles: http://onstarsxsw2011.appspot.com/

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