A connected car.
Just a few years ago, the idea of a connected car was just that – an idea. Something that was living between the lore of still fiction, and science to be. While it was always apparent that connecting the cars to the wider global cyber network was the way to go forward, we needed a reliable network and fast enough connection to even think about moving the project forward.
The modern idea of a connected vehicle was initially touched upon by Sun Microsystems CEO Scott McNealy during his keynote speech at Convergence 200 – a Detroit-based event devoted to transportation electronics. McNealy elaborated on how equipping a car with a broadband connection to cyberspace opens the door to a whole new array of navigation, entertainment or diagnostic possibilities. Cars would never be perceived the same way again as their functionality would not just be greatly enhanced, it would change altogether. The car would now become a mobile extension of your lifestyle, allowing you access to internet and also connecting itself in order to obtain new firmware, up to date information and provide telemetry data.
At the beginning of 21-st Century, there was still no roadmap for an implementation of these ideas, but works on connected services have, nonetheless begun, seeing as this was clearly a potent project. Spanish telecommunications company Telefonica prepared a comprehensive report on this issue in cooperation with leading car manufactures. They predicted that by the year 2020, 90% of cars rolling off production lines will have online functionality. Indeed, we can see this rising trend right now, although the full connectivity is still mainly the purview of more expensive and upmarket cars. Nevertheless, this technology is slowly trickling down to more attainable vehicles. One day, it will be the de rigeur feature of all automobiles, just as seatbelts, abs and airbags are now.
So what is a connected car? What are the benefits of having your vehicle permanently connected to online services? Well, it does entail all the things you would initially imagine – access to up to date traffic information, listings of available services, petrol stations and parking spaces, but ultimately it is so much more. The idea of connectivity in vehicles allows for a wide spectrum of applications, from basic web browsing, gathering the weather and road information to cloud based data sharing between cars or even tracking the investment portfolio at the real time.
It is especially the former application that yields greatest possibilities. Cloud based services allow for automobiles not to just warn each other about the current on-road situation, potential dangers, accidents and the like, but they have a much deeper role to play as the age of self-driving car and autonomous services is dawning upon us. Companies already use advanced technologies, such as machine learning, to improve the interaction of man and machine within their vehicles. Connection to cloud-based services will now allow for better machine learning by employing the principles of swarm intelligence. This means our cars will get better and know more in time, not just by regular firmware updates (that can improve algorithms used by cars’ various on-board systems), but by simply sharing their experiences. This is the real advantage of applying this technology to transportation, unless anyone thinks that being able to send out e-mails while traveling is all they need.
Unfortunately, implementing car connectivity creates its own set of dangers. Vehicles constantly connected to the cyber web can be targeted by cyber criminals, singled out for hacking for any nefarious purpose. This is why companies such as Comarch dedicate their resources to creating a safe and reliable environment for vehicles to connect without any risk of data pollution or misappropriation. Furthermore, we are actively looking for ways to expand the functionality and applications of this technology. Since cars are destined to drive themselves in the foreseeable future, connectivity will become indispensable as occupants will have more time to work and enjoy entertainment.
The levels of expertise necessary to achieve safe and productive connectivity is substantial, as is the level of insight necessary to predict new ways the technology will be applied for the benefit of the vehicle and its occupants. Nonetheless, we see it as a worthwhile investment, as a connected car is now a reality and the range of services that are available will only expand. In-car connectivity is ultimately about safety, for passengers and for data.
Let us tell you more on how we can support you in your venture into this new and exciting branch of automotive industry.