Gentlemen, Start Your Engine:The Cloud Creates the Connected Vehicle

The Month of May in Indy; an exciting time of preparations and festivities revolving around the Indianapolis 500. In every turn, the nation’s race fans are cheering the latest and greatest car technology. The racing world has brought great technological advances to the private automobile.  From side mirrors, seat belts, and disc brakes to smooth suspension systems and automatic transmissions, auto-racing technology has gone from the racetrack to the personal and business vehicle.  Returning the favor, the Connected world has made the leap from the home and office into the automobile.  Enter the era of smart mobility and the Internet of Cars!

“Connected vehicles” are cars that receive, use, integrate, create and share digital information between businesses, people, companies, organizations, infrastructures, and “things”, which includes other vehicles.

Cars are now the ultimate mobile device and we, the drivers are “connected drivers”.  Consumers expectations include being able to access relevant information wherever they are …even when they are driving. The fundamental change that began to happen in the late 1990’s transformed the nature of the automotive market and began the “drive” towards connectivity and automation.

By 2016, most buyers in the market in the U.S. and Europe will demand access to and the features that a Connected Car will provide. According to a Gartner analysis, Consumers show particular interest in the following features of a connected vehicle:

●      46% are interested in safely accessing mobile applications inside the vehicle, such as wireless maps, parking assistance apps, local searches and vehicle diagnostic capabilities.

●      1/3 are interested in a more automated vehicle that is intuitive, is safer and has the potential for self-driving automation that could help prevent accidents.

●      30% opt for a vehicle that allows them to integrate their smartphone to get hands free automation and internet connectivity.

The resulting wave of connectivity has also profoundly impacted the auto sales and finance industry.  Consumers, who are long weary with the dealer and car buying inefficiencies, are ripe for alternatives. New venture capitalists are starting up substitute options like BeepiCarvana, and Carlypso that are mechanizing and virtualizing car buying and selling. From what vantage point is this accessed?…………… the Cloud, of course!

Connected vehicles will also depend on leading mobile technologies that are integrated. The inner workings of these connected cars include sensors, digital displays, onboard and off-board computing and in-vehicle operating systems.  Wireless and in-vehicle data communication, analytics, speech recognition, and content management will be standard fare.

Besides providing automobiles with technology, these innovative breakthroughs will change the paradigm of the automotive business model.  The latest in cloud technology allows for a broader expansion of services such as retail opportunities, financial services, digital media, electronics and vehicle maintenance or enhancement access. Instead of focusing exclusively on the sale and maintenance of a car, companies will focus on the myriad of business opportunities the automobile represents and how this “connectivity’ is the access point; a way to capitalize on the lifetime revenue opportunity of the connected driver.

As these vehicles become increasingly connected, they will have the ability to become more self-aware, contextual, and potentially autonomous. What if your car was able to pick up groceries or run errands or even pick you up from the airport, without a driver?  Imagine that other drivers near you, in real time on the road, could access your cloud-based “driver record” and divert to safer areas or away from other unsafe drivers?  Now consider this information being immediately available, from the cloud to your insurance company to indicate what premium rate you will pay.  What if the government, to place you in a particular excise tax bracket, monitored CO2 emissions on your car? Can you envision your car reminding you to pick up some milk as you were driving by the grocery store?  It is a short trip around the racetrack from fully automated to autonomous.

All of these scenarios are not at all far-fetched when you consider the latest advancements in the automotive connectivity space: Avis, Zipcar , RelayRides and the interesting Google Car along with a cloud driven automotive car by Tesla. Companies like Apple, Intel and Sprint are taking a ride on the connected vehicle value-train as well. All of these maneuvers signal a growing trend towards automation that will drive the car industry to new track records!

For those whose passions lie in automobiles and driving, the era of the connected vehicle will speed them to a new view of the world. Driving a car will not solely be about the sights, sounds, reflexes and feelings, it will be a completely immersive experience of hands-on technology with hands-off automation. So whether you’re at the racetrack on Memorial Day weekend or just cruising the highways, give some thought to the Internet of Cars. You might find it to be as exciting as seeing the checkered flag ahead of you and everyone else in your rear view mirror.   “Gentleman, start your engines!”