IoT and the future of the automotive industry (part 2)

Ford is embracing the potential for new revenue models with FordPass and is manoeuvring itself to become part of its customer’s lives outside of the immediate context of the driving experience. The FordPass app already allows users to do things like pay for their parking in advance and request roadside assistance but IoT technology could add value in numerous ways. For instance, your car could calculate your route and then make appropriate suggestions to streamline your schedule. If dry cleaning is on your ‘to do list’ and a dry cleaner is on the route your car might suggest a detour. The car might then contact the dry cleaners who incentivise you further with a coupon. The car becomes just another device in a web of connectivity that extends everywhere.

The problem of data security

The new opportunities for the automotive industry are of course accompanied by new problems. The field of data security is changing just as rapidly as the automotive industry. Russian digital security experts Kaspersky labs think the prognosis for connected car security is far from ideal.

Kaspersky believes that even though bought-in components are designed to be secure against hacking the car’s internet connection represents an entry point for hackers to the overall system. The only way of ensuring 360-degree security is by rebuilding the entire architecture of the connected car from the ground up.

Whether Kaspersky is correct or there are other alternatives to the problem, what’s certain is that security is a serious issue. Solving these technical issues is now more pressing than ever as we sit poised to enter the era of the self-driving car. Without reliable security, the entire self-driving infrastructure could be compromised.

The new mobility era

The driverless car has been a favourite of science fiction but with the success of Google’s Self Driving Car Project it’s become a reality. There are still several problems to be solved before self-driving cars appear on the streets, but Morgan Stanley expects full automation as early as 2022. Before this can happen there needs to be further advancement in the interconnected technologies that self-driving requires. The IoT is essential, but self-driving cars also require sensors, GPS, radar, lidar, high powered cameras, sonar, and lasers to map their immediate surroundings all working in coordination.

Think that sounds like a tall order? This is just the start. These technologies must be integrated and powered by software that can make sense of all that information. Not to mention the fact that the software requires a sophisticated A.I. with self-learning capabilities. Until these problems are solved the new mobility era won’t begin in earnest.

The new mobility era will be characterised by declining car ownership and the growth of the sharing economy. The current utilisation rate of cars is a shocking 5% which means that 95% of the time cars are doing absolutely nothing. The future global economy looks set to place much greater emphasis on sustainable energy and the car is an obvious target.

Realistically, the future could see the roads filled with cars of every conceivable type from pick-ups to limos which can be booked by app to arrive at your destination in minutes. Customers pay-by-the-mile to be transported to their destination in safety and comfort, accidents and traffic jams a thing of the past.

In this vision of the future what will become of the manual drive car? If it survives at all it will be confined to a niche for hobbyists and collectors. For now, the sun is still shining on traditional motoring but these trends only look to accelerate. The new era of mobility could be upon us far sooner than we think.