Circa 2030 A.D, what do you think your journey to your home from your office would be like? Let me take a guess and share a narrative experience. You leave your office, and command your car to be at the parking spot. An empty car rolls up at your office door stop, and you are seated in the car. The car then asks you to buckle up and relax, plays your favourite music, updates you on the latest news. The car then reminds you of picking up your children from the school and getting the grocery from the super market, which your wife had requested you to get, while returning from the office. Your kids are picked from the school, your grocery is brought and all of you are dropped at your home. Your car takes your next request and proceed towards the next destination.
The above sequence is not from a sci-fi movie but a possible situation which would be a reality in a decade or a little more than that, say in a generation. A glimpse of such a technology is visible today at the Silicon valley, where Google’s bubble shaped prototype autonomous car has already plied more than 2,00,000 miles retrofitted with sensors. Apart from that innovations are also being tried with wireless internet connections, for collision safety, advance warning on traffic conditions and to avert the perils of a crash while overtaking on highways.
The trends visible in the automotive space are indicating towards one major phenomena, “the connected car’, which is an integration of communications technologies, information systems and safety devices to provide vehicles with an increasing level of sophistication and automation. This blog post intends to discuss four vital issues related to connected cars. First what would surge the demand for such cars, second technology integration that we envisage to emerge in this area, third how third party players can assist automotive majors in application development and finally why automotive majors should invest in the connected car space.
Surging demand for connected cars
Two vital trends that have emerged in the current times, i.e migration of people to cities and the increased production of passenger vehicles indicate that the future of automobile industries is quite bright. Research insights estimate that close to three fourths of the world’s population is expected to live in cities by 2050 and second the production of passenger vehicles is presumed to rise by three times from the current 500m. calls for improvement in the area of mobility through improvised highways, connected commute and enhanced personal mobility.
Rising road fatalities and safety measures
According to ASIRT (Association of Safe International Road Travel) 1.3m people lose their life due to road fatalities. The estimated cost of these crashes is around $500bn in developed countries and close to $65bn in low and middle income countries. The situation represents a unique opportunity and challenge of the automotive industry. The challenge is to mitigate the crashes and reduce mortality rates, and opportunity is to synergize with manufacturers of cutting-edge, innovative systems and components for connected personal mobility vehicles and raise awareness through research and development, advanced engineering, and path breaking vehicle technologies.
Source: OS Car Flickr
Responding to the needs of a digital consumer
In a global consumer survey comprising of more than 23,000 individuals, nearly half of the surveyed population preferred connected cars, indicating that there is a real opportunity to deliver enhanced services through Internet radio, smartphone capabilities, information/entertainment services, driver-assistance apps and tourist information. Automotive majors going forward need to focus on building applications that make driving more convenient and a seamless element of consumers daily routines and lifestyles.
In our opinion, we believe that technology integration in the automotive space can yield better results. The two kinds of technologies today that potentially exist in the automated vehicle spectrum comprise of ‘Sensor based technologies’ and ‘Connectivity based solutions’.
Sensor based technology uses a combination of advanced sensors, such as stereo cameras and long- and short-range RADAR, combined with actuators, control units, and integrating software to enable cars to monitor and respond to their surroundings.
Connectivity based technologies basically comprise makes use of wireless based technologies to communicate in real time from vehicle to vehicle (V2V) and from vehicle to infrastructure (V2I).
The three main forms of connectivity platform include embedded, tethered and integrated connectivity. In an embedded platform all the connectivity is built within the car, whereas in a tethered technology platform relies on intelligence of the applications functioning in the vehicle using an external SIM (Subscriber Identity Module) that enables connectivity, and finally in an integrated connectivity, applications in a car are connected through a mobile or tablet, and all the applications are run through an external piece of hardware.
Source: NG Connect Flickr
App development and the role of third party developers
Development of different applications for vehicles using embedded technology or through a hardware would alter the face of the automotive industry. As technology shapes up, the development of web based apps built on multiple platforms and would not need customisation for a particular vehicle or a device. Customers would adapt and welcome car applications that are easy to handle, possess a simple user interface and can be safely used without much hassle.
However; developing and building apps is a complex phenomenon due to the high degree of variability, compatibility, usability and long term sustainability, and hence it is highly recommended that automobile companies seek the assistance of external developers and partners adept in building the platforms. These partners bring along the experience of working with various industries and they can bring along their wealth of experience and expertise to build customized applications, which would suit the requirements of the automobile companies.
Why invest in the connected car space
The trends emerging in the automotive industry, indicate that the future of automotive industry is quite optimistic and with the surge of disruptive technologies, OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) and third party players would try to address this opportunity. The opportunity today exists in the development of smarter vehicle technologies that seamlessly blend IT, CE (consumer experience), and next generation ADAS. Going forward, the existing technologies will consolidate and contribute massively towards economical and social benefits of the society. We foresee tremendous opportunity in this space, and it would be worthwhile to invest due to the potential reasons highlighted.
Declining costs of infrastructure
Development of autonomous vehicle will mitigate the congestion on streets and also will potentially make space for huge wide highways in town and cities. The rise of the autonomous vehicle industry potentially will lead to an improvement in driving efficiency, and there would be no incremental burden on governments to invest massively on highways, express ways or spending in augmentation of the existing infrastructure.
Mitigating crashes through enhanced safety systems
Safety would be the key selling point with the market potential estimated to be about €49.3 billion by 2021. The auto industry would see a demand for products including priority responding system in case of mishaps, warning systems to alert drivers of perilous hazards on highways and collision protection systems.
Forecasting travel times and surging productivity
Go back and read the story in the beginning and try connecting the dots. With the rising efficiency in travel due to improve infrastructure, people would be encouraged to estimate, their traveling time with precision as each vehicle would have predictable and reliable routes from origin to destination, and hence avoiding more time to traffic incidents or congestion.As travel predictability rises with accurately forecasted times, this would lead to lower fatigues and enhance productivity, as drivers would spend less time behind the wheel. Rising levels of connectivity and automation would liberate the driver from stressful driving and will allow drivers to be connected to the outside world while during transit.
Source: Android Auto
The road ahead for automotive industry
Going forward the personal mobility vehicle would be a package of different technologies, and auto majors would attempt to seek the drivers attention for projecting their brands. For instance, the digital dashboard space today sees a competition between Apple and Google, where in ‘CarPlay’, a vehicle-infotainment system is developed by Apple, and Google planning to launch it’s rival called Android Auto.
We envisage that connectivity will change the integration of transport systems. Connected cars would potentially encourage car sharing as communication between vehicles and passengers would become seamless and personal mobility vehicles could be procured, accessed and managed securely by gadgets and other devices.
The rising automation and connectivity will stage a scenario where there would be minimal need for owning cars or drive the vehicles by oneself. The day is not far, when we would see cars conversing with cars, and the connected world emerging with a driverless future.