The rise of the connected car

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Everyone thinks autonomous, self-driving cars are the next big opportunity in the automobile industry -- but it is the connected car that will drive the next major transformation in car owners’ driving experience. Previously, low-bandwidth cellular network connectivity and immature, cobbled-together proprietary technologies prevented automobile manufacturers from fully realizing the potential of the connected car.

However, with the arrival of standards-based, broadband-enabled turnkey connected car platforms, automobile manufacturers can finally make cars an integral part of the Internet of Things (IoT) and offer drivers mobility, preventive maintenance, infotainment and other connected car services that deliver a significantly better driving experience. In addition, the rise of the connected car will be a powerful force driving the development of the technology and infrastructure required to build a real path to a self-driving car future.

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One example of how the new connected car will transform the driving experience is optimized mobility and navigation services. Rather than the sometimes clunky or out-of-date mobility services customers are used to (leading many to turn to third parties for these services), new connected car platforms can use high-bandwidth, always-on connections to transform in-car navigation. From real-time traffic data, to parking information, to destination details, to providing the best possible guidance on how to quickly reach a destination (even if that route does not involve a car), drivers will discover that the best way to know where to go and how to get there will be their connected cars’ optimized mobility services.

In addition to getting drivers to their destinations faster, the connected car will reduce the time drivers spend waiting for their cars to come out of the shop, and the money they spend on expensive repairs. With more embedded intelligence in the car, and an always-on connection to the automobile manufacturer, diagnostic and preventive maintenance applications can now spot problems (and even fix them remotely) before they turn from a minor annoyance into a major headache. Moreover, when problems do arrive, new high-bandwidth, feature-rich maintenance applications can deliver easy-to-follow advice to drivers on ways they might be able to quickly fix the problem themselves -- helping them avoid a time-consuming and costly trip to the mechanic.

As far as infotainment -- soon the connected car will enable drivers to basically take their home entertainment systems on the road. Passengers (and drivers, when it is safe) will have full access to the same video, music, social media and other applications they have when they are sitting on their couches at home. These new connected car capabilities are also likely to result in new concierge service, travel guide and other car-specific infotainment applications that significantly enhance the driving experience. Imagine, for example, touring Yosemite or the battlefields of the Civil War with your own, personal in-car tour guide.ConnectedCar-overallDiagram-3a[2]

The connected car will also accelerate the eventual launch of self-driving cars. Let’s be clear -- despite all the hype and pilots, we are still actually a long way from seeing the commercial introduction of cars with full driving automation capabilities. The barriers are significant -- self-driving cars not only need complete awareness of the road, but also need to be able to communicate with transportation infrastructure (traffic lights, road-signs, etc.) and other cars if they are to provide a truly safe and fully automated driving experience. The connected car sets the stage for the development of these technologies, creating the platform and incentives necessary for the development of the vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications technology needed to eventually move self-driving cars out of the lab and onto the highway.

Over time the connected car will help drive the creation of the technology and other infrastructure needed to make commercial self-driving cars a reality. In the meantime, powerful, standards-based broadband-enabled connected car platforms will transform the driving experience -- helping drivers reach their destinations quicker, reducing the chances of their cars breaking down on the way there, and enhancing the drive itself with the same infotainment options they expect at home, along with others specifically designed for cars. The rise of the connected car is upon us -- and expect it to shake up the automobile and IoT applications industry.

L1220465-1Andreas Kohn is the director of marketing for Sierra Wireless’ automotive solutions. He joined Sierra Wireless (Wavecom) in 2008, and has 17 years’ industry experience, including eight years with Siemens Automotive Segment.

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