connected cars

7 min read

Connected cars are redesigning the concept of safety

Piotr Anioła

Following a development of technology and emerging trends such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and Machine to Machine (M2M), Connected Car Solutions will be some of the most mature and fastest growing over the next five to ten years. According to the latest Gartner forecast (September 2016), at the end of 2015 the number of produced vehicles equipped with a built-in communication module and data connectivity or integrated with mobile devices reached over 6.8 million, and this number is increasing. It stands at over 12.4 million in 2016 and will reach nearly 61 million in 2020.

So, what are the likely features for connected cars and their development in the coming years and what are the major trends?

New principles of technology development have started a race towards simplicity

A few years ago many automotive companies started a race to create - in accordance with the rule ‘keep it simple’ - the most intuitive, smart and friendly solutions connecting the car to a network. The most popular direction of the connected car development focused on various kinds of navigation systems. OEMs endeavored to create a more improved offer of smart car equipment with personalization-based features. From this time vehicles started to think as we do and know what we liked.

Some time ago we had the pleasure at intive to develop a fully integrated mobile app called My Guide for the Volkswagen company. It is a worldwide navigation system with context-aware software offering smart and valuable functionalities – the application proposes travel destinations in a neighborhood where you actually are, and offers valuable advice to make your day a one of its kind. It shows the most interesting places worth visiting with the family during a holiday, finds the best restaurant in the vicinity for a lunchbreak, or places where it is worth meeting up with friends on a Friday evening. The app takes into consideration a wide context, including the current weather and the time and day of a week.

Furthermore, it is based on users’ opinions and offers the entire essential information that you currently need about your destination or distance. The My Guide Android app makes use of MirrorLink technology, helping to explore your smartphone content responsibly and comfortably, and projecting it on a dashboard display while you are driving.

A coherent smart environment of your vehicle communicating with its surroundings

The next ground-breaking connected solutions concerned integration between car parts and the whole software environment, creating a smart car ecosystem. Nearly every part of the equipment is able to connect with other elements, or integrate with a network, and plenty of data about the vehicle coming from an implemented OBD (On-Board Diagnostics) connector which unlocks information from an on-board computer.

It puts the car environment in a new redefined context constructed with hundreds of bits of information from both the inside - the habits of the driver, the condition of the engine and break blocks, the level of fuel or oil, and the outside - traffic lights synchronization, weather prediction, GPS signal and the diagnostic history of your car. Finally, the vehicle begins to work in a specific way predefined by algorithms and literally ‘learns how to work’ in a new manner respecting the entire owned information.

The driver can view all the important information coming from the car presented on a dashboard screen as well as on a special mobile app. You can monitor your car’s parts permanently and if necessary change the oil or the brake blocks in your car i.e. you can immediately react to avoid any serious damage. Moreover, if your car’s data connects with a database of your authorised service provider, they will inform you in advance about the necessity to perform a service on your car. You need only to book a visit via the mobile app - consequently saving yourself time and money. To theorise a situation, in the case of a crash a special emergency team receives a signal about the accident, keeps in contact with you or your family, and undertakes a rescue faster than normally.

The mobile app learns how to work more economically with a view to reducing exhaust emissions and their negative impact on the environment. The eco-driving tips&hints allows you to save money thanks to lower fuel consumption. Last but not least, your individual driving abilities enable a decrease in your insurance payment and match it to your driving skills – tailor-made insurance payments can be the next benefit for a driver, providing that their driving style can be deemed ‘collision-safe’.

New perspecitves and opportunities for security improvement

After intuitive and dependable navigations system with personalized advice and connected to all the car parts, it is a high time for smart security. In the automotive arena this is a constantly developing and important topic, and each car manufacturer is doing their best to implement the most wished for solutions inside. Nowadays, we have a wide range of internal and external sensing systems but we are still waiting for their mass adoption not only - as to be expected - in the luxury cars models, but in the mid-level range as well.

Currently, safety solutions are at the forefront of technology trends as a leading hot topic, and provide a great possibility for improving the overall condition of security and the national economy. According to the Association For Safe International Road Travel, nearly 1.3 million people die in road accidents each year, on average 3,287 deaths a day; an additional 20-50 million are injured or disabled. Moreover, road accidents cost USD $518 billion globally, costing individual countries approximately 1-2 per cent of their annual GDP.

Connected car technologies are breaking new ground for smart security

Through mobile technology integrated with sensors, we can use many solutions for improving safety by warning drivers about potential dangers on the road and helping them to avoid crashes. Moreover, while the safety is increasing, the costs associated with insurance and emergency assistance/healthcare are decreasing. Most of the safety solutions are at the phase of development and quality tests, and a great effort is being put on the autonomous car. Here, sensing systems play a key enabler role, as creating an accurate perception of the surrounding environment is an important parameter for such systems. Autonomous cars connected with the entire vehicle’s software ecosystem and smart city signals would be a milestone for vehicle security.

Sensing systems are the most important enablers for adding intelligence in the automotive world. Multiple cameras and sensors being used on cars is now becoming standard. Most of the risky areas such as blind spot warnings, forward collision warnings and avoidance have been diminished because of the use of cameras and advancements in machine vision technologies. For example, drivers can be supported by an interactive image of the road created by a realistic picture from the outside camera with a virtual reality sketch superimposed on it. The new image of reality consists of valuable tips about the cars around you, their distance and speed, gives the most important parameters about the weather conditions, and other useful advice for improving safety and driving performance.

Security improvement is a common matter - intive continually strives for safety improvement

When talking about safety improvement, it is worth mentioning our latest demo solution prepared especially for the Genivi Conference by the development team at intive. The solution has been built with the use of a Genivi communication platform called Common API, and uses an embedded internal sensing system to follow the driver’s face and his eyes. This solution developed by intive helps drivers to avoid crashes caused by fatigue and falling into a microsleep while driving.

The facial area and eyes in particular are tracked by a tiny camera which is constantly decoding an appropriate position for them. When the driver turns his/her head in another direction than directly in front of the road, or closes his/her eyes for a moment, the solution activates a sound alarm and warning alerts on the car dashboard to prevent a mishap. The solution is fully expandable and it is possible to adapt into the car environment by OEMs, or to commercialize it in the future. Hopefully, in the near future we will see it as a standard safety car part.

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