Fleet News

Technology: Car becomes connected to drivers' lives

Richard Kinder, vice-president technology and new business, Red Bend

At the Geneva Show this year, the concept of the car becoming a four-wheeled computer was finally made a reality.

The automotive industry wants to be a part of its customers’ connected lifestyle, so more and more vehicles are coming connected to the network via embedded cellular modules and other networked devices.

Drivers, passengers, and third parties are all taking advantage of the newly connected car.

People don’t want to manage multiple devices and sources in the home, at work and on the go, which now includes the car.

Any car or smartphone manufacturer that ignores this new reality is putting themselves at a substantial disadvantage.

Gaining full control of the connected user experience means car manufacturers can use their infotainment systems both to differentiate their vehicles from the competition’s offerings and to reinforce their brand.

From the driver’s perspective, IVI (in-vehicle infotainment) is the best way to enhance the driving experience too.

It provides a solution that centralises features such as GPS, climate control and parking sensors with navigation, traffic reports and online information including weather, location-based services (LBS) and multimedia.

Car manufacturers are now taking advantage of these opportunities to move to a new architecture where dedicated electronic control units (ECUs) are being replaced by more powerful, general purpose embedded computing devices.

These devices not only help to reduce on-board software, minimise hardware complexity and reduce costs but also enable more sophisticated in-vehicle services and applications that will turn the car into the fifth screen after movies, TVs, PCs and mobile phones.

With no need for external devices and applications in the vehicle itself, embedded systems allow vehicle manufacturers to fulfill the need for communication and information access on the road and integrate the car into the rest of consumers’ connected lives.

We expect the car industry to follow the mobile phone industry in that, once connected, the car – just like smartphones – will become a platform for new content and services.

With cars now computers on wheels, it’s vital that OEMs have the systems to manage car software over the air.

This is crucial in supporting both the consumer and the automotive industry; it provides a vital source of customer information and service.

Being able to update software over the air is better, cheaper, more efficient and more practical than having to bring a vehicle to the dealer.

Car manufacturers have to prepare for the connected car by developing managed car services that can offer consumers new features and performance improvements wirelessly to their vehicles with no disruption to their connected lifestyle.

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