In a Spin with Autonomous Cars?

The automotive industry is innovating rapidly and it would be reasonable for you to shout “and so it should!”, given the impact cars have had on the economy and society’s well-being.

These are still early days but Autonomous and Connected cars are being developed now and the benefits are compelling for all.

Fully autonomous technology remains some way ahead, and the full potential can actually be quite mind-boggling. There are, however, some aspects which will be addressed earlier and will resonate quickly and easily.

  • If today’s Parking Assist and Cruise Control were to evolve, they could become Valet Park Assist and Traffic Jam Assist. In our last blogwe talked about how parking affected traffic congestion, which in turn affected travel times.
  • Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions could be reduced by as much as 60% through optimized driving.
  • The European Environment Agency previously stated that “9 out of 10 European city dwellers breathe bad air”and traffic congestion is a significant pollution contributor.
  • Between 2014 and 2030, Connected and autonomous vehicles could save over 2,500 livesand prevent more than 25,000 serious accidentsin the UK.

As the level of automation increases over time, so do the market opportunities and benefits. Autonomous braking, lane, and parking assist features of today can be enhanced to deliver partial automated drive. Unfortunately, the development time and consumer uptake will prolong availability of full automation to 2025 and beyond. Ultimately, fully automated vehicles will not require a driver, and will be able to respond to various road hazards such as pedestrians, animals, weather, and other vehicles.

Connectivity is the key enabler for all autonomous functions, and this too requires a roadmap. Today we see insurance black boxes being retrofitted to monitor driver behaviour and car usage, which can result in lower insurance premiums. A growing number of vehicles are now available with internet connection via a mobile phone tethered to an embedded SIM in the car. So, today there is a limited (but still interesting) number of connected cars on the road.

In the years ahead, connecting vehicles to wireless and cloud infrastructures, or other vehicles (V2V/V2I), will provide benefits such as lower travel time, fewer accidents, and less pollution. It will also make the travel experience a more productive and enjoyable one, for the passengers and even the driver.

So will the car simply have its own mobile data plan? Well, if 5G becomes the omnipotent mobile technology that it promises to be, perhaps Connectivity could become that simple. However, if we look aside to the M2M/IoT market place and think about how we use our smartphones, we see that an array of different networking technologies will actually be required.

  • The car, like your smartphone, will want to connect to the mobile network when in motion, but use Wi-Fi when stationary. It will move from cell to cell. It will probably have to hop between frequency channels as it goes.
  • Inside the car, smartphones and other devices will want to use Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and NFC as primary means of connecting to the internet or to the car control system.
  • A topology of connections will persist both inside and outside the car.
  • Cars will effectively “roam” across mobile networks and countries, especially in Europe and at the tri-junction areas of the world.

Connectivity needs to be a part of automated vehicles, but as a Service!

By Iain Davidson

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