By Patrick Avenell

French futurist tech brand Parrot today launched its new in-car mapping, apping and AV solution, the Asteroid.

What sets the Asteroid apart from other head units is the last four letters of its name – ROID – the same suffix on its operating system.

Once installed in the car, the Asteroid can provide navigation via an included GPS dongle and internet access on a 3.2-inch TFT screen, though a 3/4G mobile internet adaptor is required as a separate purchase. Alternatively, users can tether their smartphone to the Asteroid to provide internet connectivity.

There are six applications available at launch, which is expected to be October 2011: Maps, Roadtrip (a tourism guide), Wikango (a speed camera warning system), Weather, TextFriendly (for voice SMS reading and writing) and TuneIn (50,000-station radio service). 

Further applications can be added to the Asteroid platform, which is described as "open".

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Music playback options include USB, SD Card, MP3 players and iPhone and iPod (via 30-pin port) and smartphone streaming. There's also analogue AM/FM radio.

For hands free calling, the Asteroid has Bluetooth 2.0 to pair with compatible smartphones.

Parrot ANZ managing director Chris Roberts told that it is currently in discussions with retailers to sell the Asteroid, which is RRP $399. The focus will be on both traditional independent in-car specialists offering installation and the bigger chains with dedicated in-car products and services, such as JB Hi-Fi, WOW! Sight & Sound and Autobarn.

For the future, Roberts said the Asteroid could soon include a Wi-Fi receiver for use in hot spots. He also said Parrot's internal developers were working on new applications to join the core launch set, as were third party developers, who can download the app developers' kit for free.

The Parrot Asteroid was successfully launched in Europe earlier this year.