Parking spots reserved in advance, automatic toll collections without toll gates and shorter travel times with reduced congestion are only some of the dream scenarios that drivers often share. Today, with the development of the ‘connected vehicle’ these scenarios are fast becoming a reality. Connectivity and M2M (Machine to Machine) solutions are making automobiles more aware and responsive to changing contexts, thereby allowing the car to connect with its driver. Automobile manufacturers are no longer merely delivering robust products. They are now catering to nuanced customer needs by implementing automotive connectivity.
This augurs well for most automobile owners and manufacturers, as connected vehicles are increasingly becoming an industry trend. Cars can now communicate using embedded sensors that relay performance information to the manufacturer, aiding improved engine design. Travel safety is set to improve too, as the use of voice-based hands-free devices picks up, which could reduce the rate of distracted-driver-related accidents. A major boost comes from a recent EU regulation that requires all cars to have an in-built emergency call facility that automatically sends distress notifications to response teams. Such M2M call facilities could cut emergency response times by half and potentially reduce road fatalities. Insurance providers could also benefit from in-car connectivity by tracking a driver’s usage patterns. The monitoring of driving habits, safety protocols and car conditions can then help determine premium charges on a case-by-case basis.
The rise of cellular broadband is facilitating the provision of ‘infotainment?’ services in cars, such as live video and music streaming and videoconferencing capabilities. Automobiles could even potentially operate as personal computers, with many manufacturers enabling Google voice based applications within cars. Manufacturers have also developed their own proprietary networks that drivers can use to access exclusive services, such as vehicle diagnostics. These solutions could become key market differentiators for many industry players. Integration with the cloud is also helping to manage the wealth of data that such broadband connectivity could provide. This integration allows every vehicle specification to be readily available for remote access.
Such real-time data capabilities could help build the final frontier in connected transport—that of a smart transport grid. Here, scanners could identify pedestrians and alert oncoming traffic, while the increased usage of fog lights and windshield vipers could help authorities identify unsafe travel conditions. Self-driving cars could be a regular road fixture, with industry giants, such as Google, pioneering product development. Sensors, speed control, GPS, and pre-programmable routing are just a few of the technologies making driverless cars a reality. This could help cities optimize their transportation management systems and provide for a safer, more efficient driving environment
The research firm MarketsandMarkets estimates that the connected-car market will touch approximately $1 billion by 2018, with in-vehicle internet becoming a must-have feature for customers. With such developments, the connected vehicle is certainly here to stay. What are your thoughts on the potential of connected vehicles? Please leave your comments in the section below.