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Connectivity, the connection between people, vehicles and the environment, is far more than just a new technology. It is shaping the entire future of mobility. A networked vehicle promises additional driving comfort, greater safety and increasing customisation of the driving experience.
Monday morning in the year 2024. You get into your car, the vehicle wishes you a good morning, reminds you of the day’s appointments along with the most important calendar entries for the coming week. Then the vehicle asks: “Would you like to add anything?” You answer: “Not at the moment. An appointment this afternoon might be postponed, then we would have to modify the route.” Your car has listened carefully: “You sound a little stressed. That could result in mistakes in judgement on the road or at work. Be especially careful today.”
Does that sound like science fiction? By no means. Most people are familiar with voice assistants such as “Alexa” and “Siri” and the technology continues to develop at an incredible pace. Companies such as “Beyond Verbal” have already developed software capable of analysing the owner’s mental state on the basis of intonation, word selection and tone of voice.
How will these developments shape the future of connectivity in networked vehicles? The answer is not found in the Connected Car itself but rather in smartphones. These mobile devices have become omnipresent companions. Today there are more smartphones in the world than people and more than three million apps are available. Every smartphone reflects its owner’s individual interests.
That is why it is a clever idea for car makers to expand the connectivity with the smartphone, to create a symbiosis and transport its offers into the world of automobility via the Internet.
However, manufacturers are also developing their own innovative solutions for the Connected Car. They are collaborating closely with software developers and technology companies to offer customers a fully integrated, highly individual vehicle that takes the driving experience in the Connected Car into new dimensions.
For example, the technical update of the Volkswagen Passat now enables the vehicle to be unlocked and started via smartphone. The MIB3 modular infotainment matrix ensures that the Passat remains permanently online, if desired. Smartphone apps can be integrated into the system. Over the long term, the “Volkswagen We” digital platform will also transfer the entire personal vehicle configuration into a cloud, where it can be transferred from vehicle to vehicle.
Whether electric vehicles or automated driving systems, whether the use of state-of-the-art sensors or the connection to wireless hotspots and telematics services – the future of the networked car has already been created at the automotive industry’s research and development centres. The major players from the IT and automotive industries frequently collaborate. Microsoft and Volkswagen are jointly developing an automotive cloud to provide all of the digital services from Volkswagen on the Internet. In addition, the company is working on new Connected Car solutions focusing on telematics and data exchange between the vehicle in the cloud.
Yet connectivity also means far more than just the connection between people and the vehicle. The communication between vehicles themselves will also continue to develop. More Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices are already in use today than just smartphones and these will also become more common in the Connected Car. In the case of Vehicle-to-Vehicle connectivity (V2V), these systems in the vehicles “talk” to each other. They automatically share data providing information about vehicle speeds, the current traffic situation or road conditions. This can help to reduce accidents, traffic jams and damage to the networked vehicle.
The Vehicle-to-Everything technology (V2X) takes things one step further and will enable the Connected Car of the future to communicate with traffic lights automatically carry out refuelling or recharging a petrol pump or charging station – including on pipeline payment, of course.
Autonomous driving is a sub-area of connectivity and is about to achieve a breakthrough. The first major automotive manufacturers have presented fully autonomous vehicles in recent studies and these will enter mass production in the foreseeable future. The tone of the automotive industry is clear: autonomous driving will soon become a day-to-day thing. From a purely technological perspective, driverless driving is already possible. However, the acceptance among customers requires a gradual introduction. Still, it is only a question of time because one thing is certain: the future is coming.