An outlook into the future
Since the latter part of the 19th century, automobiles have been the preferred mode of transportation but the growing demand for luxury and a feeling of oneness with the vehicle that is often taken for granted today, were, at the time, unheard of. Baring the essentials like a roof, windshield, or even rear-view mirrors, the early variants of automobiles were manufactured with the sole purpose of getting from point A to point B.
For a race, obsessed with mobility, modern times have unsurprisingly rung in innumerable transformations. Change is the only constant. More so with mobility and its perception in today’s world.
For ages, the auto industry was a highly evolved, organized, and tightly controlled environment with well-defined boundaries. Its primary stakeholders constituted OEMs, auto parts makers, and end customers. Moreover, owing to the limited access to feedback systems, connectivity, etc., customers had minimal interaction with the OEMs throughout the vehicle lifecycle.
With the advancement of newer technologies, the ecosystem has begun to change. For example, with digitalization, the entire dynamics of the car are changing, as the all-analog cluster is seeing its end with digital instrument clusters, which come packed with a whole lot of additional functions and features. Global advances in automotive technology have boosted the expectations even higher, calling for the development of mobility as a world of its own, even simple, extension of our personal space going mobile.
Modern-day consumers expect seamlessly and tailored automotive experiences and features, and they are ready to participate in product and service innovation. In the next 10 years, we can expect increased activity, development, and rapid growth across the mobility sector.
Changing ecosystem: demand for modern vehicles
The defining factors of mobility have been ever-changing owing to technological advancements and largely due to the changing wants of the customers. Earlier, it was about vehicles maneuvering safely to destinations without breaking down, but it is a completely different ball game today. Modern vehicles have come to adapt advanced features like park assist, pillar to pillar digital instrument panel, and connectivity to the cloud and cell towers.
To meet the highly technical demands of the industry, we rely on what are known as High-Performance Computers (HPC). They integrate the computing power for a multitude of features and functions in a vehicle and reduce the complexity of the overall system. Enabling updates and upgrades, they turn vehicles into a kind of an integrated “secure smartphone on wheels.”
The connected car uses big data to continually evolve the software-defined vehicle, enabling them to deliver premium connectivity services and over-the-air (OTA) upgrades to the vehicle throughout its lifecycle. OTA allows add-ons such as new features and essential updates to firmware and cybersecurity to be rolled out on a timely basis.
With advancing connectivity, the risk factor of cyber-attacks also increases. Governing the security of those components/systems responsible for protecting vehicles and passengers is crucial; hence, cybersecurity is critical. For example, accidents may occur if the brakes and transmission ECUs of a car are not secure from hackers.
A connected car has a network of functions that work together to communicate information, such as cameras that screen occupants, GPS, and seat belt reminders. Apart from implementing cybersecurity measures in the developmental phase, intelligent vehicles are continuously monitored for possible threats and vulnerabilities at Security Operations Centers.
Furthermore, smart vehicles can be part of the smart ecosystem by communicating with smart infrastructure and the cloud. This helps to organize traffic, for instance, through sharing or multimodal transport services. This feature bears positive implications for traffic congestion, accidents, and even emissions, thereby improving safety and efficiency.
The smart ecosystem in limited connectivity areas
Gone are the days when connected technologies used to be just Vehicle-to-Vehicle. Today, vehicles communicate with the environment (V2X) as well. A perfect example of this technology would be Intelligent Intersection. This end-to-end solution comprises a sensor set for the intersection, the powerful sensor (radar, camera, lidar) fusion algorithms that generate the environment model, and the Dedicated Short-Range Communication (DSRC) units, both at the intersection, and in the vehicle. While the basic concept of this is to protect Vulnerable Road Users such as pedestrians and cyclists, it can also support drivers in complex intersection traffic scenarios like preventing right-turning cars from running head-on into traffic that approaches from behind an obstacle.
To summarize, more intelligent mobility has enabled an ecosystem that includes OEMs, drivers, automotive parts makers, software technology companies, car dealers, pedestrians, infrastructure, other IoTs, cell towers, SOCs, dealers, etc.
The future is closer than you think.
Continental recently added its second Smart City Mobility and Transportation Hub in a city dedicated to leading the way in mobility innovation: Columbus, Ohio. Currently, in its first phase of development, Continental’s Columbus Hub consists of two busy intersections with high vehicle and pedestrian traffic made intelligent by integrating Continental sensors, connectivity, and intelligent software into the infrastructure. In 2019, Continental launched its first Smart City Mobility and Transportation Hub across two intersections in Auburn Hills, Michigan.
In addition to this, Continental has also launched a collision warning system in Hamburg. This will function as a digital guardian angel that ensures safety solutions for vulnerable road users. Using smartphones, this system will be able to provide real-time collision warnings.
Also, Continental’s technology for driverless vehicles is in series production in French company EasyMile’s EZ10 autonomous shuttle. The CUbE is environmentally friendly, flexible, safe, and suitable for a wide range of tasks. Over the coming years, these will initially be concentrated at locations such as large industrial parks, airports, exhibition complexes, amusement parks, and pedestrian areas in city centers.
Autonomous driving, Shared mobility, Connectivity, and Electric Mobility are the four megatrends of the future of mobility. The future will see increased collaboration between all
actors in the mobility ecosystem, making the environment a more complex one than ever before.
The in-vehicle transit experience will become a defining feature of the future of mobility. Content – providers, in-vehicle service providers, and data and analytics companies will try to make the in-transit experiences like we want them to be. Many of these features already exist, but they would vastly expand to become more immersive and interactive.
Additionally, infrastructure will be critical. As data becomes the new oil – telecommunication providers, cybersecurity, and operating systems can add value by providing fast, reliable, and omnipresent connectivity for all the data needed by the future mobility ecosystem.
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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