This week our team have been taking in the 4th annual Connected Car event in London. The expo is focusing on how those involved in car manufacturing and development can make the most of the latest advances in technology whilst keeping the cost to both producers and consumers manageable. But do Connected Cars come with their own set of safety concerns? By installing interactive technology in our vehicles, are we putting ourselves in danger behind the wheel?

Connected Car trends

When it comes to Connected Cars – the names on everyone’s lips are Uber and Lyft, although there have been plenty of companies jumping on for the ride, including rental car companies and even rent-a-scooter fleets such as Scoot in San Francisco. Connected Cars are big business, with giants such as Toyota announcing large-scale investments in connected and autonomous vehicle development.

In-car communication – just a distraction?

For now, in-vehicle technology such as voice-activated apps and voice-to-text messaging may appear to be the ideal way to make the most of Connected Vehicles – allowing us to keep in touch and utilise what may otherwise be ‘wasted’ time sitting in the car. However, research has shown that this type of technology carries with it some serious safety concerns. Analysis from Liz Slocum Jensen, Connected Car expert and guest contributor for Venture Beat, has shown that hands-free technologies can mentally distract drivers even when their hands are on the wheel and their eyes are on the road. Speech-to-text interaction with a smartphone or infotainment device can cause 25% delayed reaction in drivers. For further details of the analysis, including some eye-opening infographics, read Liz’s blog here. Technology has been developed including apps that can send automated replies to incoming text messages with information about location and options to receive alerts once the driver has stopped driving, but they are not the ideal solution to the problem of smartphone distraction.

It is clear that while Connected Car development and innovation are moving forward at a rapid pace, safety is the buzzword everyone is most concerned about, and rightly so. Findings such as those detailed by Liz could mean that the sort of interactive technology mentioned above will have a very short shelf life, as developers discover ways to ensure maximum driver and passenger safety in tandem with installing the very latest technology in our vehicles.

Are autonomous cars the answer?

Research suggests that over 95% motor vehicle accidents involve some degree of driver behaviour. Car manufacturers appear to be working towards autonomous vehicles as the ultimate solution to the problem of driver distraction caused by interacting with technology whilst driving a car. As Liz writes – ‘our dependence on the phone has created a new, prolific hazard on the road’ – and developers are desperately striving to find a way to stop drivers interacting with their smart devices in the current dangerous conditions, while maintaining momentum in technological developments. The challenges are complex and the solution has not been found yet. What is clear is that drivers should not be trying to multi-task – so should we leave the driving up to the car itself?

Secure and reliable Connectivity is one of the keys to delivering safe autonomous driving and in the enablement of service oriented business models in Automotive. Connect with us at www.arkessa.com/connect.

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