The Connected Car
What is a connected car?
“A connected car is a car that is equipped with Internet access, and usually also with a wireless local area network (Wikipedia).”
A relatively simple example of a connected car technology is adaptive cruise control. Everyone knows what cruise control is, but the adaptive version takes it to the next level. The car uses sensors to monitor road conditions, the distance of neighboring cars along with the speed & flow of traffic.
Many newer cars come equipped with technologies such as adaptive cruise control, parallel parking assistance and automatic braking based on proximity to objects that run in front of the car. All of these technologies are made possible by Internet of Things (IoT) sensors.
As technology continues to advance, so too does the connected car. A relatively new form of the increasingly connected car is having built in wifi. The wifi connects the car and the occupants inside in ways never thought imaginable before.
“Attention is now turning to developing the car’s ability to connect with the outside world and enhance the in-car experience…This is the connected car—a vehicle able to optimize its own operation and maintenance as well as the convenience and comfort of passengers using onboard sensors and internet connectivity (Mckinsey).”
The Future of The Connected Car
We are heading in the direction of driverless cars & autonomous vehicles.
When we reach that point in the not too distant future, it will be a pivotal moment for humanity. As populations continue to climb and urban centers like New York City and Los Angeles congest further, autonomous vehicles could be the answer.
“Autonomous vehicles would also eliminate the need for huge parking lots at rail stations or downtown. They could pick up passengers at their home or place of business and take them where they need to go and then be on their way to serve others. During idle time they could be programmed to go to parking facilities, which would not be on land nearly as valuable as residential or business properties of the inner city (The Tenessean).”
An increasing number of manufacturers are conducting connected car testing: “Jaguar Land Rover and Ford recently began testing communication in their connected vehicles designed to speed up journeys and cut down on accidents, reports Reuters (via Business Insider).”
In addition to this, Elon Musk pledged that, “by the end of 2017, he’ll produce a Tesla that can drive itself from Los Angeles to New York City, no human needed (Wired).” Tesla is leading the way in autonomous driving and, though there have been a number of negative news stories about the safety of autonomous vehicles recently, it’s very exciting to see the technology be developed.
A real world example of this is the Uber Self Driving Truck that made a Budweiser beer delivery in Colorado. “The ride-hailing giant teamed up with AB InBev to transport beer in an autonomous vehicle, which they say is the world’s first such commercial delivery (Bloomberg).” The truck drove over 120 miles on the freeway, escorted by police just in case something went wrong. It’s not 100% there yet, but autonomous vehicles are one step closer to becoming reality.
The Fathym team recently traveled to Austin, Texas for the Texas Wireless Summit.
We were honored to be a featured connected car tech startup in the field of technology, and to show off our WeatherCloud road weather solution. WeatherCloud has mobile weather stations that can attach to fleet vehicles and existing infrastructure (think more Departments of Transportation and less Average Joe Consumer, for now).
Our sensors monitor ground weather so that our clients can more accurately know when and where to provide maintenance or route fleets. For example, our solution is used by the Department of Transportation in Alaska and helps them make decisions about what roads need to be plowed and de-iced. The sensors are small and discreet, but they link the data between the weather, the car and the person driving or observing the data from our sensors.
We were in good company at the Summit. Some of the other startups featured included a company called CivicSmart which “has enabled over 2,000 cities to unlock substantial value from their on-street parking programs through its innovative ‘Smart Parking’ solutions. These solutions reduce miles traveled, traffic congestion, and fuel use while increasing city revenues (TWS).”
Being part of the event made us even more excited for our connected car future.