The connected car is one of the most disruptive trends to grip the automotive industry. It brings with it endless possibilities, from the realisation of safer mobility to the development of new business models. A variety of these opportunities and issues were discussed at length at Connected Car Detroit, an event hosted by Automotive Megatrends. Michael Nash was there – here’s what he learned
Connected for life
Road traffic collisions result in the deaths of around a million people each year – a figure that could be significantly lowered with vehicle connectivity. As well as improving the safety of drivers and occupants by enabling progress in the development of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), connectivity will help to safeguard cyclists and other road users. Vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V), vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) and vehicle-to-pedestrian (V2P) technology could all play central roles, said Frank Weith, Director Connected Services at Volkswagen Group, allowing the connected car to predict scenarios before they unravel and mitigate the risk of collisions.
Safe and secure
Leading on from and directly linked to safety is security. Each connected component in a vehicle is an “entry point that could potentially be exploited by hackers,” warned Meg Novacek of Argus Cyber Security. OEMs are now focusing more of their efforts and investments on hiring security experts to develop firewalls from the early stages of vehicle design, as well as employing white-hat researchers to identify any weaknesses that need plugging. The key takeaway: hackers will always pose a security threat when devices are connected, but the aim for the automotive industry is to stay one step ahead of the bad guys.
Dealing with data
The rapidly growing number of connected features being built into vehicles is dramatically increasing the amount of data generated by new cars. This is opening up a host of opportunities that could make mobility smarter, more efficient and cost effective. However, it’s also opening up a number of challenging questions: Who owns this data? Who should have access to it? What should it be used for? The answers aren’t yet clear, but what is clear is that the automotive industry will have to find ways to handle huge amounts of useful (and confidential) data.
Monetising the connected car
‘We’re no longer just an OEM – we’re becoming a service provider’ – a statement heard increasingly frequently as the traditional OEMs adapt to the changing nature of the automotive industry. One of the primary ways of monetising the connected car is through the launch of new services, from ride-sharing to new on-board infotainment features. Separate business models can be built around new connected vehicle services, but monetisation should not be part of the equation when it comes to safety features in the connected car. As Andrew Smart, Chief Technical Officer of the American Center for Mobility, pointed out, any technology that saves lives should be readily available to all.
Bridge to automation
Looking to the future, connected car technologies are a nod to the roll-out of highly autonomous vehicles (HAVs). Many of these technologies are already central to semi-autonomous features, like automatic emergency braking systems and adaptive cruise control. And while the most optimistic predictions for bringing HAVs to market refer to a timeline starting in 2021, the automotive industry is confident that connected car technologies and advanced hardware have already enabled autonomous vehicle operation in controlled environments.