The automobile industry is being transformed by dynamic trends in automotive connectivity and technology. Tremendous progress has been made in just a few years, but the best is yet to come. Artificial intelligence (AI), next-generation advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), and expanding vehicle-to-everything (V2X) infrastructure are bringing the market closer to autonomous driving capabilities.
How Popular is Automotive Connectivity?
McKinsey predicts that by 2030, over 95% of new automobiles sold globally will be networked, up from around 50% currently. According to McKinsey’s connected car customer experience framework, around half of these vehicles will have intermediate and advanced connectivity, which includes features such as access to personal profiles for digital services, ecosystems, and portals, multisensory interactions for all occupants, and intelligent decision-making through smooth connections to the environment.
Autonomous vehicles (AVs) are poised to overturn the automotive sector. Over the last decade, searches for “autonomous driving” have grown by 900%.
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Connectivity effectively establishes cars as nodes on the Internet of Things (IoT), so that people’s vehicles increasingly operate as a service delivery platform in addition to providing safe transportation. Interdependencies between onboard telematics, which connects the automobile to the external world, and cloud-enabled software and services are charting the future of the connected vehicle.
Top 5 Industry Trends in Automotive Connectivity
Here are five major automotive connectivity trends to pay attention to as the industry cycles through the creation, adoption, and refining of the technologies driving car connectivity.
The term “software-defined vehicle” refers to the industry’s transition from a static, electrically powered product to an expandable, platform-based mobility solution where the vehicle architecture is determined by software rather than hardware.
Tesla was a pioneer of that, establishing a computer network and then building vehicular firmware around it to push the boundaries of typical automotive software. The idea is to think of a vehicle, such as today’s electric ones, as a high-performance computer (HPC) on wheels, with software enabling a tailored, two-way “conversation” between automobiles and their manufacturers, as well as links across the entire ecosystem.
Connectivity in autonomous driving
In line with the fast ramp towards autonomous driving capabilities, software developed by custom connected car development companies is also considerably extending the lane for more access to growing V2X features (more on those later). The challenges of autonomous driving are substantial, necessitating increasingly sophisticated software architecture to analyse, store, and share the massive amounts of data generated by detection protocols.
Automotive networking is a critical pillar for self-driving cars. Highly automated cars necessitate a large range of sensors as well as a variety of processing subcomponents, all of which require dependable, seamless connectivity.
However, due to the necessity for a fully linked infrastructure and the evolution of other technologies as a basis for ensuring safe operation and functionality, don’t expect to see widespread acceptance of entirely autonomous vehicles for at least another ten years.
Another challenge is processing speed. Connected vehicle applications create massive amounts of data between the automobile and the cloud. Because data can’t make a round trip to the cloud in time to meet autonomous vehicles’ real-time decision-making requirements, edge computing must change to ensure safe and secure performance across the entire ecosystem.
5G networks are being deployed nowadays (and 6G will follow soon after) to provide the extensive coverage, speed, and low latency required for these projected transportation breakthroughs. Yet, automobiles must still be capable of assessing and operating with basic functions within the car, regardless of external connectivity. If the navigation connection is lost, the vehicle must still be able to function and determine where it is and what it requires.
V2X – Vehicle-to-everything
In a metaphorical sense, connected cars are moving on two roadways at the same time. While one is visible and real, with wheels physically on the ground, the second is unseen, a digital superhighway being built through a partnership of public and private investments. V2X technologies are the domain of this growing ecosystem.
V2X, which is enabled by sophisticated sensors and other connectivity techniques, allows cars to talk with one another as well as other linked pieces of the “smart city” infrastructure. In a fully developed V2X future, all actors on or near a road will be able to communicate their position back and forth in near real-time, using a combination of complementary communications services such as cellular, short-range radio technology, broadcast systems, and additional networking elements such as unmanned aerial vehicles and satellites.
Consider automobiles “talking” to each other to avoid collisions, with traffic lights altering in real-time based on current traffic circumstances, or your car “knowing” where an available parking spot is. These are some of the advantages of the evolving sophisticated automobile connectivity landscape.
It’s worth noting that the full deployment of low delay, high bandwidth information exchange systems (i.e., 5G, 6G, and future connection networks) will allow this IoT “system of systems” to generate tremendous value. It has the potential to change roadways with a really “smart” system that is going to save lives, reduce congestion, and promote more environmentally friendly means of transportation.
Ununified vehicle architecture
Trend number four examines the impact of the increasingly software-defined vehicle on automotive hardware architecture.
Data generated by connected autos is massive. EVs demand high-performance computers and high-speed network links to handle their ever-increasing data quantities. As a result, vehicle designs are evolving and becoming more centralised to better manage the growing complexity of the ecosystem.
EV hardware, which used to contain up to 100 separate electronic control units (ECUs), is gradually developing towards architectures made up of a few high-performance computers (HPCs).
Because of this consolidation of vehicle functions, developers have been able to simplify vehicle designs, improve driving performance, decrease vehicle weight and hardware costs, and lay the groundwork for next-generation functionalities such as wireless software upgrades, improved security and safety, and complete self-driving capabilities.
As software and hardware requirements evolve in tandem, the path forward is towards high-performance computation platforms that leverage centralised and cross-domain architectures that are more adaptable and enabling than the ones available today. This will enable agile software development (i.e. additional feature delivery) up to vehicle launch and beyond, guaranteeing the greatest possible customer experience as the car rolls off the production line and throughout its lifetime.
Customisation and personalization
Cars are more technologically advanced, enabling nearly limitless options for customised client contact. Integration with one’s digital experience is becoming just as important to buyers as preferences for a car’s appearance or mechanical performance.
Consider the smooth and portable user experience provided by connectivity and software technology, which allows a person’s digital life to migrate from “in-home” to “in-vehicle” with the flip of a software switch.
This is a unique opportunity for OEMs to reimagine user experience throughout their brand portfolio. It’s an opportunity to merge drivers’ and passengers’ external desires with their in-car needs, allowing for more meaningful relationships and improved customer loyalty.
Moreover, over-the-air (OTA) updates offer a variety of advantages, including reducing inconvenient excursions to the dealership, fine-tuning and monitoring functionality, and delivering software patches without the need for a recall.
All in all, connectivity creates a more tailored and informative gateway for better service, value, and, ultimately, stronger appeal. Regrettably, connectivity also opens the door to potential security threats such as cyberattacks.
The automotive industry – and the broader mobility ecosystem – is undergoing a transformation catalysed by the emergence of the software-defined vehicle. It’s a shift that is accelerating in tandem with the development of an increasingly powerful and large-scale communications infrastructure that delivers connectivity to the car.
Things like infotainment delivery, design refinements, and product cycle management based on real-time user data are dynamic client-centric use cases and validations of what tech firms have been doing so far to get the industry to where it is today.
But, the increasingly connected car’s greatest value comes in its realisation of a more informed and intelligent mobility network, one that makes travel easier, safer, less stressful, and more sustainable for all.
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