Android Auto is a great alternative to the expensive, clunky, and quickly-outdated infotainment systems many cars have as an upgrade option. It essentially takes your phone’s apps and displays them in a driver-friendly way on a large touchscreen. Android Auto-compatible stereos are an option in some new cars, but if you have an older vehicle you’d need to purchase a expensive aftermarket head unit.
Huan Truong didn’t want to fork over that kind of cash, and his 20-year-old car only had a single DIN stereo slot anyway, which limited the Android Auto options available to him. So, he created his own setup called Crankshaft, which uses a Raspberry Pi and a touchscreen to run Android Auto. Crankshaft is still in the early stages of development, but you can still build your own right now.
All you’ll need is a Raspberry Pi 3, the official 7" touchscreen, and some sort of case to mount them in your car. The necessary software comes pre-installed on the Crankshaft image, so you can simply write it directly to an SD card like you would with the normal Raspbian image. Then just find some way to mount the Pi and touchscreen in your car, and you’re ready to start using Crankshaft.
Crankshaft is still at an alpha level, so some noteworthy features are missing. There is no BlueTooth support yet, so you’ll need to connect your phone with a cable. There also isn’t any microphone integration, so you can’t use voice commands. But, both Truong and the community seem interested in keeping the project alive, so it’s likely that those will be added in the near future.