The automobile industry is gearing to meet new challenges – from making cars semi-autonomous and autonomous to hybrid cars and shared mobility.
Technology is also playing its role in several areas such as in-car connectivity, vehicle-to-vehicle communications, Advanced Driver Assist Systems (ADAS) and Telematics.
The Connected Car ecosystem market for embedded connectivity is estimated to reach $40 billion by 2020. Considering the size of the market and the potential for disruption, digital technology giants like Apple, Google and Microsoft are starting to play a role in this transformation. Google has been testing driverless cars for a few years and has created OAA (Open automotive alliance). Nokia recently sold its mapping division ‘Here’ to a consortium of leading car manufacturers. It’s not only the technology and automotive vehicle manufacturers – companies like Uber, car sharing start-ups, insurance companies and telecom operators are also eager to be a part of the transformation. Government bodies too see the potential for reducing pollution and traffic congestion by supporting car-sharing initiatives that companies like Daimler and Ford are pioneering.
The benefits for car owners are many. There’s the promise of improved breakdown assistance that can be automatically enabled using vehicle location tracking to save us from the prospect of waiting for hours on the hard shoulders of motorways for a break-down truck to arrive. Poor driving habits can be improved by e-coaching systems that deliver personalised hints and tips to our in-car systems. In-car sensors can also help prevent accidents by alerting us when tyre pressures are too low or other potential safety issues and can even provide vehicle diagnostics that can be transmitted over the cloud to service companies to automatically schedule the car for service. Health and safety levels are also being improved with systems that monitor driver’s vital signs and fatigue levels.
The car is the next frontier for new operating systems and some of operating systems being used in connected vehicle systems are proprietary, but companies like Apple, Google and others could change that. For car manufacturers, their R&D priorities are about using technological innovations to improve safety, efficiency and performance. It is inevitable that next generation cars will bring together the best that automotive players and technology specialists can innovate.
As the ‘millennial’ generation comes of driving age in the next few years, they may be more inclined to car-share than own a car and their priorities in choosing a car may well include the connected experience that the car can deliver. What’s clear is that there’s huge value at stake and, as with any other technological disruption, we are in for some interesting times. Cars are being redefined as a computer on wheels with software getting into each and every subsystem. The Electronic control units will inevitably become networked and start to communicate with each other as the autonomous systems evolve.
By Karthikeyan Natarajan, Head of Tech Mahindra’s Automotive Group