Connected Car – the automobile in a communicative world

Video calls, electronic money and machines that communicate with one another – technologies that were once considered the fantasy of science fiction books - are now becoming integral to modern western culture.

The car is no exception to recent technological advances and we are increasingly getting closer to the self-driving, sentient and communicative vehicles that were previously limited to mid-twentieth century fantasy.

The automobile is set to blaze the trail towards a rapidly evolving connected world where the Internet of Things (IoT) revolution - the integration of network connections into everyday objects and an industry projected to be worth $1.9 trillion by 2020 –is prompting an increasing consumer expectation for the connected car.

Where are we now?

The use of communications technology within newly manufactured basic car models is primarily limited to Bluetooth, integrated satellite navigation systems and radio data systems (RDS), where communication travels from external sources to the car.

This passage of information is set to change in the very near future, with cars being able to relay information about things such as location, speed and fuel consumption to external sources, including other people, services, objects, cars and even the roads.

Already across Europe eCall technology is being rolled out and from April 2018 will be a regulated part of all new car manufacture. This technology enables cars to automatically contact the emergency services with location coordinates and wirelessly deploy airbags in the occurrence of a serious accident.

Pilot Cooperative Intelligent Transport System (C-ITS) projects are also in construction in Europe. This technology will enable vehicles to connect with each other, the infrastructure and the wider transport network.

What’s next?

As early as 2017 we should be seeing cars that are able to monitor diagnostics, mileage, speed and other factors in order to synchronise with smartphones and send data to manufacturers, dealerships and insurance brokers.

Subsequent advancements are due to include integration with home networks, payment assimilation for fuel consumption and entertainment systems that are able to incorporate smartphone interfaces, enable on demand content streaming, facilitate car-to-car gaming and empower social media updates.

Perhaps the most exciting and crucial automotive advancements expected within the next ten years are the developments in driver assistance and safety functions. Innovations such as autonomous driving, collision prevention automatic braking, parking assistance, fatigue detection, medical assistant alerts and environmental adjustments to keep drivers alert are set to dramatically change the experience of driving.

How will this affect the automotive industry?

Amongst the immense strain that the trend for connectivity is placing on the telecommunications, IT and security industries, a building pressure is also being put on the automotive industry. With the increased use of digital technology in car design, engineers (both design and mechanical) will be required to embrace new skills in web technology and programming in order to develop connected car systems.

Tim Carling, Divisional Manager – Matchtech Engineering Technology, comments:

"It’s a really exciting time for the automotive industry where we are seeing a shift in commercial influence from the traditional automotive Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) to technology and communications solution providers. This combined with the rapidly evolving landscape of the vehicle market has resulted in a dramatic change in the variation of skills the industry requires of its engineers.

"With over 25 years’ experience placing traditional mechanical and electrical design engineers, Matchtech is now uniquely positioned to place and find professionals with the skills needed for connected cars via its automotive technology division – a department that uniquely utilises the combined expertise of both Gattaca’s engineering (Matchtech) and technology (Networkers) brands."

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