If you could go back in time and tell people that in the near future there would be a handheld device that would allow them to listen to virtually any song, watch virtually any movie or television show and have access to pretty much any book, they would probably think you were crazy.
As it is, we now take all those features of a smartphone for granted. In fact, what once would have been the stuff of science fiction is now commonplace. With technology advancing in leaps and bounds around us, perhaps the one thing that has generated the most buzz involves the marriage of the automobile with the computer: a connected car.
To shed some light - and whet your appetite - for current and future car technology, here are five important things to know about connected cars.
1. Connectivity already exists and is becoming mainstream. Vehicle connectivity is already present on approximately 40 million vehicles around the globe, which come equipped with such features such as in-car WiFi, Bluetooth connectivity, and satellite radio systems. By 2022 over 80 percent of all new vehicles sold are expected to be connected, through 5G and Wi-Fi cloud platforms. Industry estimates suggest this number could quadruple by 2020, and reach 90 to 100 percent of new car sales by 2025.
2. Telematic magic. Telematics allow a vehicle to communicate and share information with other networks helping to enhance everything from in-vehicle operation and efficiency to communicating with other connected vehicles and external infrastructure. In some ways, this type of communication is like having a team of people on the lookout for any maintenance or security issues you have with your car. All you have to do is enjoy your drive. The potential benefits of this data could result in everything from reduced accidents to reduced traffic congestion. The emergence of telematics is expected to become a multi-billion dollar industry.
3. Better maintenance. Year after year, more lights and alerts have shown up on dashboards. These help alert drivers to maintenance issues, but connectivity allows for a truly exacting system of diagnosis and prevention. One of the most advanced solutions, known as the integrated vehicle health management (IVHM) from Honeywell Transportation Systems, uses algorithms and computer models derived from data generated by vehicles already in service as well as highly sensitive sensors to monitor an automobile's system, such as tire pressure, fluids, timing, efficiency and overall operations. IVHM anticipates problems before they occur to better inform car owners when maintenance is needed, which can reduce the cost of unnecessary repairs by up to 50 percent.
4. Securing the vehicle. Today, Bluetooth connectivity represents one of more than a dozen vehicle attack surfaces that can be hacked. Research shows that people's fear of malicious vehicle hacking and breaches of data privacy is a leading concern with future autonomous vehicles. In response, Honeywell Transportation Systems has developed cybersecurity technologies including intrusion detection and protection software to monitor and protect connected vehicles. Based upon the very tools and systems that have been implemented in the aerospace industry and used to protect critical infrastructure such as nuclear power plants and oil refineries, the software uses advanced analytics specifically designed for the automotive industry to detect abnormal behavior in a car's connected network. Operation center will then provide rapid feedback to auto makers to help mitigate potential threats.
5. The electrified powertrain. One of the needs that comes with increased connectivity is more electrical power in the vehicle. Auto makers are developing new 48-volt architectures to replace existing 12-volt systems. The upgraded system supports electric motors, a sophisticated network of sensors and internet-enabled devices. This has the potential to transform the automobile into a mobile office. In addition, the electrification of the powertrain makes for more efficient operations, helping auto makers meet more stringent emission regulations. In time, it is plausible municipalities could use the connectivity of the vehicle to determine access to certain routes in downtown areas or other locations where vehicle emissions are controlled.
Of course, these topics are just the tip of the connected-car iceberg. If you're in the market for a new car, it's likely that in the next few years, you'll experience these features firsthand.