Knight Rider. The series that made us all fall in love with the idea of the automated automobile. The star car, KITT, was kitted out with a wealth of savvy tech, including high caliber computing capabilities, autopilot, and even a voice synthesiser.
When the original series was aired, these concepts were futuristic to the point of fantasy. Today, however—and to the delight of many—Knight Rider levels of automotive tech are very nearly within reach. And while the average car may not be equipped with a flamethrower, the Internet of Things can make the current and future capabilities of connected cars just as exciting.
Making the deal sweeter by enhancing driver experience
Drivers are already accustomed to add-ons when buying vehicles. And with ever-increasing consumer expectations around control, personalisation, and automation, car manufacturers and dealers are primed to profit from value added services that aim to increase comfort and convenience to enhance overall driving experience.
It’s estimated that by 2020, 75% of the 92 Million cars shipped globally will be equipped with the necessary hardware to connect to the Internet—and already we’re seeing an influx of optional service add-ons enabled by IoT sensors and connectivity. These include:
Want to control your car from your phone? Just like everything else, there’s an app for that. Not only can you remotely lock and unlock the doors, heat or cool the cabin, and even check if windows are open or closed before you even step out of the front door, you can call up information about the state of your car including petrol level, tyre pressure, and engine condition.
Terrible at parking? There’s an app for that too. Step out of the car and park it straight from an app like Remote Parking Assist.
Cutting travel time with real-time route optimisation
Real-time traffic information including traffic density and average speed on roads can help the vehicle suggest the best route to take to keep travel time at a minimum.
Hosting work and play via in-car WiFi
Keep the kids entertained with in-car entertainment subscriptions while you transition from office to car seamlessly. Services that sync up to your calendar can turn your car into a personal assistant that automatically offers optimised routes to your next meeting location, or connects you to your next conference call as soon as you get in the car.
Reducing breakdown risk
On-board diagnostics can help predict and alert you to something that might go wrong before it happens. And in the event of a breakdown, your car can automatically alert and connect you to a breakdown crew.
Off to the cinema? Your car can not only show you the best route, but also book the tickets, tell you what time the film starts, and give you restaurant recommendations for afterwards. And while you’re at it, why not place an order on Amazon and have it ready and waiting in the trunk of your car by the time the film’s over?
Delivery employees using GPS can now locate your car and request permission via Amazon Key and the Chevrolet Cloud to unlock the trunk to place your parcel inside—no key required.
Stolen vehicle recovery
Finally, with all those add ons, you’ll want to make sure your car stays yours! In the event of a theft, real-time location tracking can be used to locate a vehicle, track it, and liaise with police to recover the vehicle.
Creating safer roads
Much of the innovation in the automotive industry has been geared towards safety, and it’s easy to understand why. Features such as rear view cameras, park assists and vicinity warnings are a commodity today. However, IoT capabilities will only enhance the potential for safety and accident prevention.
Environmentally aware cars
Real-time hazard warnings can be transmitted directly to drivers, while the car itself can adapt automatically to upcoming danger or a change in environmental conditions.
Outside of the car, human error is the most frequently reported reason for a collision with a cyclist, with the most common accidents involving cars merging into a bike’s path. Volvo’s smart helmet uses two-way cloud based communication to share a rider’s location with car drivers and vice versa. When the vehicle or cyclist get too close, visual cues are used to warn of a potential collision in the form of flashing lights for the cyclist and a projection onto the windscreen for the driver.
Making blind spots visible
Meanwhile, when it comes to public transport and HGVs, a quarter of serious accidents involving cyclists are caused by passing too close—often the result of the rider being in a blind spot. A soft overlay of IoT tech can alert drivers to the presence of a cyclist in a blind spot, and trigger a projection into the path of the upcoming cyclist. By visually indicating the vehicle’s blind spot, cyclists will be warned of potential danger and take safe, evasive action. You can read more about how IoT is keeping cyclists safe here.
Working with emergency services
And when there’s a fender bender? Collision detection can trigger an automatic alert that informs emergency services of an accident. Furthermore, on-scene accident information can support aid and cut critical response times by giving the exact location of the collision, the number of people in the vehicle, and the condition of the car.
Rethinking car insurance
Sensors, devices, and machine learning programmes are already being used to collect data on driver behaviour in efforts to work from an arguably fairer ‘how well you drive’ model, rather than risk statistics drawn from your age or type of car you drive.
Usage based data can help increase customer engagement, reduce premiums, and create better drivers by giving them a sense of control over their policy. Meanwhile the insurance companies themselves benefit from a competitive advantage, and the ability to reconstruct accidents and settle claims with data backed forensics.
And finally… companies that need to manage fleets of cars, taxis, delivery vans, buses, and trucks stand to benefit hugely from IoT.
Keeping track of driver behaviour
Promote safe driving and keep drivers accountable by monitoring dangerous behaviour such as excessive acceleration, harsh braking, lane swerving, harsh cornering, and accident notifications. Geo-fences can alert when a vehicle enters a specific zone, or moves away from a designated route, while alerts can be sent out if a vehicle moves after hours.
Cutting running costs
Live information feeds on milage, location, fuel consumption and CO2, can empower companies to plan the most efficient routes to save on fuel costs, time, and wear, while predictive maintenance alerts mean that faults looming on the horizon can be rectified before any issues spiral out of control.
Putting the connectivity in the connected cars
The potential for data-centric car models is staggering. Mckinsey and Company believe that “The car will become an environment that allows users to perform and enjoy activities other than driving while traveling.” Driverless cars, V2V (vehicle to vehicle) and even V2B (vehicle to brain) connectivity are just around the corner.
However, it’s worth noting that a lot of the above features rely on SIM connectivity. Currently, when a customer takes delivery of a new vehicle from a car dealer in Britain, they must source, purchase, and fit that SIM independently—which can be a challenge for some car owners.
Furthermore, and perhaps most importantly, the market for SIMs is inflexible and not at all designed for the Connected Car arena. Owners are resorting to buying Data SIMs on either a monthly payment plan with set monthly data allowances (use it or lose it) or on Pre-Pay with either monthly or 12 monthly expiring limits with zero flexibility.
Both car dealers and drivers need the support to both host and benefit from IoT service add-ons.
Our relationships with major mobile operators and our investment in our own network infrastructure means we can give all the control and flexibility needed when it comes to connecting cars.
Moreover, we offer a faster, more secure service than traditional consumer SIMs with a usage portal that puts users in control of their whole network. And to top it off, our support team can remotely troubleshoot problems, and set up intelligent device pairing that ensures the SIM can’t be used in another device.
No car dealerships would consider selling vehicles without car mats—and IoT SIMs are about become just as commonplace.