Wednesday, 13 december 2017 | Redacción CEU
Being bored is not an option. That seems to be the goal that flies over a good part of the car brands that are on the market. The autonomous car arrival promises to turn vehicles into entertainment centers, rather than means of transport. No matter how hard they try, it is possible that the police from the future will not be able to avoid distractions at the wheel. Vehicles themselves will be great breakouts and drivers will not be properly drivers. As long as autonomous cars do not circulate in a massive way on the streets, automobile firms will continue trying to please their cars crew with new services that advance in the same direction. Cars start to look more like mobile phones and less like traditional vehicles. Will your car be the cellphone of the future?
Car manufacturers could have found a pragmatic cure to amaxophobia: autonomous cars. In the near future, driving will be an activity from the past. Drivers will abandon their pilot status to become one more passenger. Maybe they keep some control tasks, depending on the level of the car autonomy, but probably most of the time that they are in the vehicle, they have no specific function to perform. Are brands going to abandon drivers to their fate? Will these ones allow drivers to get bored on board?
Car firms work to improve the experience over wheels of their customers. They intend that this is a more comfortable and complete experience and they achieve, intentionally or not, that cars are increasingly similar to smartphones. The design of connected cars allows that, apart from users getting from one place to another, trips are more entertaining, practical and personal. The next few years promise to be full of new proposals and car services. This is a great turning point for the motor world.
From March 31st in 2018, all new cars and light trucks that are manufactured must include an automatic emergency call system known as eCall. This system will provide emergency services with important information for dealing with the accidents that occur; like the type of vehicles, the accurate time at which they happened, the exact locations and the number of car occupants. The European Parliament intends to reduce the number of deaths on the road by 10% with this measure approved in 2015. This technology could shorten the response times in case of accident, the first minutes are vital.
This is just one example of how the connectivity of vehicles begins to normalize. According to the estimate made by Faconauto with data obtained from the consultancy MISI, one of every four cars in 2021 will be connected in Spain. This organization predicts that the number of vehicles with Internet access will reach six million within just a bit over four years. Worldwide, the consulting firm Gartner increases the figure to 220 million vehicles. Connected cars are now a reality. Internet access in vehicles already allows access to email accounts, having a driving assistance service, listening to a personalized music playlist or connecting to the "cloud". But vehicles on the Network promise more: increasing the connection between cars and "smart" homes, monitoring the health status of the occupants, preventing accidents more effectively, customize the relationship between cars and drivers according to tastes and habits and, even, turning cars into virtual reality cabins.
Cars also begin to facilitate other types of tasks, such as payments through integrated applications. That is precisely the latest proposal of General Motors. Last week, the firm revealed that through the Marketplace service of their vehicles, the occupants could buy a coffee, pay for gasoline or book a table in a restaurant. It is not the only company that offers new services for their customers. SEAT announced in the past edition of Frankfurt the implementation of the Alexa system in new vehicles. Thanks to this voice assistant designed by Amazon, users can manage their personal agenda, locate points of interest or find nearby authorized dealers, among other functions.
The connectivity of the vehicles can turn against the autonomous cars of tomorrow. These cars can be attractive targets for hackers, either jeopardizing the safety of their occupants, violating their data protection and even carrying out a terrorist attack. Tesla, the leading connectivity company, has already suffered several attacks on its vehicles. The hackers managed to take the power of functions like the regulation of the seats and mirrors, the opening of doors, the lighting and even the brake control. Now, the company works with a cryptographic key that only they know and develop safer mechanisms.
Brands are eager to reach the level five of autonomy certification, the vehicles that are able to circulate without human intervention. Connectivity is key to achieving this purpose; automobiles must be connected to each other in order to "drive" alone. The autonomous car promises to eliminate human mistakes when driving but cars are also susceptible to external damages, cyber attacks. Car manufacturers not only have to design connected, intelligent and exciting vehicles, they also have to ensure that their security systems are strong and ironclad against any attempt of remote crime.
Both mobiles and cars are part of our daily routine. Both are meant to be understood and complemented from each other. Perhaps they are two sides of the same coin, two emblems of Digital Transformation, because, now, the new smartphones also have wheels.