Vehicles will behave like the smartphone of today – transmitting and receiving data to and from a variety of sources. Traffic and accident warnings, weather notices, road closure information, route and parking planning and other information could all aid drivers. In addition, increased connectivity could help deliver the latest in ‘infotainment’ to drivers and passengers and enhance the journey experience.
Businesses in the car market recognise the opportunities.Many OEMs, tiered supply chain component, telecoms providers, software and hardware providers have committed significant resources to harness new technology and establish a position of strength in the market. However, many of the initiatives are being carried out in silos. Collaboration in a number of areas will be important to help deliver what is in the most part currently just a theoretical product.
The European Commission’s masterplan for connected cars, which will reportedly be set out on Wednesday, will hopefully drive greater levels of collaboration. Technological and technical standards, such as those being developed in relation to new ‘5G’ connectivity, are vital to development. The Commission’s masterplan could help focus industry efforts on working together on communication standards in a way that will not only deliver benefits to them, but to the wider industry and consumers as a whole.
Infrastructure is also a vital component of the envisaged world of connected cars. Vehicle systems will need to interact with the authorities and systems responsible for the road networks and traffic management, for example, and be capable of supporting vehicle-to-vehicle connectivity too. The hardware and software must be in place if connected cars are to come into widespread use. That appears some way off yet, and of course, safety remains the paramount consideration as new technology and systems are contemplated.
The masterplan could also offer an indication of how connected cars might be regulated in future. Uncertainty over issues such as data ownership and liability for accidents may be holding back development.
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