Friday, 25 august 2017 | Redacción CEU
In this digital society we inhabit, the changes happen at a vertiginous speed. We are in the transition to a new automotive model where cars are driven by themselves and they know what we need and anticipate it. They even let us know if they are about to suffer a breakdown. They are ecological, electric, autonomous, do not consume fossil fuels and are permanently connected. At the Fourth Industrial Revolution gates, perhaps the industry that is best taking advantage of the Big Data impetus is the automobile business. What else can we expect from the sector in a few years? How is the massive data irruption affecting the engine world?
Do you remember when you dreamed of driving a car like the Knight Rider car? That 80s series, made millions of young people dream about the possibility of having a car with which they could interact with, live exciting adventures and talk. Today, four decades later, that fantasy is coming closer to becoming a reality. That fictitious Pontiac Firebird predicted the human coexistence with an artificial intelligence -IA- that processed thousands of its surroundings data in a blink of eyes. Of course, our fantastic cars are not that much. Although they are increasingly autonomous and adapted to meet our needs, they still are far from becoming self-conscious –and so sarcastic as KITT was–. The collection and data analysis play a decisive role in the arrival of a fully connected car. Big Data will be the next revulsive to the motor world.
You may be wondering what automotive production stages the Big Data science is being used. The answer is simple, probably in all. In the vehicle design, technical safety aspects, aerodynamics and power are taken into account. These parameters are defined according to the study of the information obtained through millions of data in real time. This new technology is employed in the new cars outline that are manufactured. Issues like functionality, convenience and experience enhancement also have a very important weight. Companies can access to information about what we need, what is more appropriate and what makes us happy.
The car creation process is not exempt from the massive data use either. The automotive sector is one of the industries that has been able to adapt its factories to the modern integration techniques of assembly line sensors. At first they were only meant to track for improving times and developing more precise machines. Nowadays, their work goes further and help to predict a possible piece failure. These processes are being carried out by factories like Mercedes-Benz in Vitoria or Seat in Martorell.
Along with the automotive business, marketing is other sector for which Big Data means a great challenge. For example, thanks to the information we provide in our social networks, the automobile brands have a better knowledge of their potential customers. In this new hyper-digitized era, it is essential to customize the product –in this case the vehicles– and the services and to develop predictive models to be competitive.
One of the great advantages of the data use in the automotive sector is the after-sales service improvement, in particular, technical assistance. The work in this area focuses on the logistics and maintenance services perfection. If one car part undergoes a heavy wear or does not work properly, the vehicle itself can notify the incident and take you to the nearest garage shop.
Big Data technology combined with the things interconnection –Internet of Things– brings with it a new business way focused on improving the driver experience and even the other passengers’. Some companies work in the connection between cars and homes. Other enterprises like Panasonic Automotive work on the cognitive cars development. This year at the International Consumer Electronics Show –CES–, the company carried out a show of how a driver can verbally process a fast food restaurant order and make the payment without going out of the car. This platform called Cognitive Infotainment also offers personalized suggestions and recommendations about the route, the machine learning and the data use are combined.
The human beings future is urban. At least that it is what the statistics indicate. The more crowded a city is, the more traffic jam, more accidents because of the rush, more pollution and less leisure time. In this search for solutions to this problem, the new concept of intelligent mobility emerges. The vast access and the real-time information exchange about road conditions, incidents, alternative transport, collaborative navigation or car sharing practices will be essential so cities do not collapse and can be sustainable. In a few years, it will probably not even be the driver who is behind the wheel, but the car itself and it will be the one that can decide faster which route is the most convenient.
Among other advantages, 'hyperconnected' cars offer more safety, reliability and savings according to the manufacturers. Repairing a car part that malfunctions, avoiding to cross a dangerous area where an accident has just happened, obtaining information on how our driving affects fuel consumption, ... the possibilities offered by Big Data and the cars connectivity are very wide.
Car manufacturers are aware of this deep model change and are adapting their strategies to these new times. The pressures that the sector faces are not few: high investment for the sector transformation, globalized and strong competition, new user responses, changes in customs and routines, customer demand and rapid adaptation to a changing scenario.
Data have always been there, but a vehicle had never been able to produce such an enormous amount of information. A single car is capable of generating 25 gigabytes of data per hour. It is estimated that by 2020 the 90% of cars will be connected. On the other hand, we do not have a solid and forceful answer to the question of who has control over those car data. The legislation development is not only recommended but imperative to ensure the user protection.
However, these are just bumps along the way. The experts are positive about the imminent arrival of a new business model. Maybe in the very near future to solve a small problem, you just have to turn your hand, talk to your watch and call your car: KITT, I need you!