Driving a Data-Driven Connected Car

When tablets arrived, some joked they looked like super-sized smartphones.  While smart devices are also scaling down (e.g., smart watches), the super-sizing continues as analysts estimate that by 2020, 90 percent of the vehicles on the road will be smart devices on wheels, so-called connected cars capable of much more than the infotainment features of today’s luxury cars.

Lucas Laursen recently blogged that the United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA) will soon propose rules for vehicle to vehicle (V2V) communications, which research shows could prevent 75% of car crashes.

“As envisioned by NHTSA,” Laursen reported, “vehicles equipped with V2V would send position and speed data to one another ten times per second over an ad hoc wireless network.  Onboard computers could then calculate whether nearby vehicles are a threat and alert drivers.  Future protocols might incorporate information from the sort of onboard sensors that are growing more popular among carmakers, creating a road-spanning network of sensors and alerting cars to problems up or down the road.  That kind of data ubiquity would help drivers avoid one another.”

As far as selling points go, it’s safety first.  After all, without government agencies like NHSTA making V2V mandatory, the safety features would be greatly diminished.  But just like with smartphones, it will be the convenience of easily accessing our data and favorite apps that will put driving a data-driven connected car in the fast lane to success.

Furthermore, as Michael Curry recently blogged, “as the car gets linked up with smart mobile devices, social networks, and transportation systems made up of sensors on streets, traffic lights, and signs, the connected car will be a hub and rolling transmitter of information.”  Just like the smartphone shows the symbiotic relationship of cloud and mobile, Curry sees the cloud as the processing engine for much of the data created by connected cars.  “This will provide the ability to perform big data analytics against a variety of data sources, such as weather, vehicle history, and component failure data.  It will also allow information flowing from multiple cars to be analyzed together, to help communicate information between cars, and to recognize and warn cars about events such as traffic patterns, spot weather conditions, or road hazards.”

The connected car market, estimated to hit $600 billion, will be the single largest market for connected devices and services, and one which will provide a wealth of data to drive innovations and advancements in road safety and vehicle maintenance, as well as other possible applications such as optimized auto insurance premiums that reward the truly safe drivers among us.

Of course, just like everything else in the big data era, there will also be data privacy concerns.  We already, while using our smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices, occasionally experience the uneasy feeling we’re being watched.  Just imagine all the backseat drivers, hitchhikers (and possibly hijackers) digitally riding along with us in our data-driven connected cars.

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