Vauxhall is pumping up its trusty Astra hatchbacks with some serious new hardware. The company's started fitting its cars with Panasonic Toughbook CF-19 laptops that'll allow users to connect to the Web over Wi-Fi and 3G.
The package is aimed specifically at Britain's police forces, who have long relied on Astras for everything from patrolling to full-on, Hollywood-style car chases, and who already use separate, non-integrated Toughbooks to log crime reports.
The Toughbook CF-19, which is mounted on a special dock in the glove compartment, was chosen for its ruggedness and compact size. The laptop features a 10.4-inch sunlight-viewable, convertible touchscreen display and a full magnesium alloy chassis that can withstand a 2m drop.
The Toughbook can be removed from the glove compartment for viewing, though its contents can also be viewed via an 8.4-inch high-resolution touchscreen positioned in the centre of the Astra's dashboard. While on the road, officers can use the laptop to access the same software they'd use at a police station, so they can be alerted to incidents as soon as they're reported.
Vauxhall says the integrated Toughbooks can reduce the amount of time it takes to log a crime report. Police can enter crime reports from the comfort of their vehicles and log them over a 3G data connection instead of creating reports on paper notebooks and faxing them back to base for a separate crime input team to log.
"The Toughbook enables the police force to operate a mobile office system," said Dick Ellam, Vauxhall special vehicles manager. "Before built-in Toughbook systems were available, an officer would have to spend about a third of his or her time in the office."
The customised Astras are aimed primarily at fleet customers, that is companies that buy or lease groups of vehicles for a field-based workforce. Head over to your local Vauxhall dealer for more information.