There is an increasing proliferation of digital technologies in today’s cars and it is all set to take the automobiles of today to a new platform altogether. Many features of modern day cars like monitoring performance parameters such as speed, fuel tank levels and fuel efficiency and other systems like the audio, heating and air conditioning have been digitised in order to provide comfort and convenience to drivers and passengers and most importantly, to keep the driver informed about the condition of the car. The car has become a self-sustaining unit that is connected with the devices carried by the occupants like smartphones and is also connected with the cloud. This provides information to the driver in the form of real-time traffic updates, music streamed from the cloud and personalised roadside assistance in case something goes wrong and help is required. Due to the advanced functions now present in cars, they can adjust their position while driving and alert the driver if the car is drifting away from the lane, and avoid collisions if they are driving too close to the car in front of them. In short, the car of today has become a digital hub and this is just the beginning.
The car of the near future is going to be a radically altered version of the cars we see today. In the form of an autonomous vehicle, many functions that drivers perform today are going to be taken away from them. There will be vehicle-to-vehicle communication enabled by the Internet of Things, providing new levels of service and functions, and there will be function specific cars, such as those particularly devoted to ride sharing. Such radical transformations are likely to have a profound effect on the automobile industry. As the connected car technologies mature, they will change the expectations of the consumer to a large extent and affect the relationship between the seller and the owner. Functions like safety and maintenance sensors will be connected with smartphones and these features are becoming common in the premium segment vehicles of today. This will accelerate the pace of innovation in the field of automotive technology, with car manufacturers coming up with newer innovations in order to differentiate themselves from the competition. Within this context, there are a few trends shaping up connected cars and autonomous vehicles, which will alter the definition of the car of tomorrow.
The evolution of AI in automobile design
Technologies relatedto connected cars are evolving fast. There are a number of ways in which fifth generation wireless technology is being used in automobiles, in addition to the evolving computational speeds that are required by the artificial intelligence to take control of the car, and the evolution of complex low-cost sensors that make the car aware of its surroundings – all these trends are redefining the automobile of the future. There is a huge investment in the technology arena of connected cars, and this is especially true for cars in the premium market segment – such as the BMW or Tesla. In addition, with the advent of 3D printing, there is a revolution brewing up in the way the spare parts of such connected cars are produced at a low cost, driving the technology to its limits. Companies are investing heavily in the realm of software for advanced driver assistance, and even mapping technology is undergoing a huge change in order to better adapt itself to the connected cars of tomorrow. Such fast-paced technological innovation is changing the entire value chain of the ecosystem and the way the global automobile industry operates.
Herein comes the role of the consumers, whose tastes are undergoing a radical change in the present times. Urban consumers in the affluent western markets are now increasingly opting for ride sharing and public transport that changes the way the car market operates. Hence, even though the car market in the United States is soaring, there are increasing issues of affordability of the consumers for such high tech automobiles and this remains a key limitation for future growth of the automobile industry. Meanwhile in developing countries such as China, where an affluent middle class is emerging, they still dream of owning a car, and this class of people will drive the market for automobiles northwards in such regions. However, the middle class buyers are expecting highly advanced levels of connectivity and technological innovations in the type of cars they buy. Another important aspect to consider here is the role of the regulatory framework in the context of the automobile industry. With increasing emphasis on pollution control and environmental protection, the regulatory framework of the future will discourage car ownership and encourage trends like ride sharing and use of public transport and hence car makers are investing in the related technologies accordingly.
Connected car technologies do have a promising future ahead and are going to radically change the way we drive around. Even though some of these features are still in a stage of infancy and not in the market currently, the speed with which the automobile industry isembracing such futuristic trends is an encouraging sign for innovation and technological development that is gathering pace in the current times.