Technology and connectivity innovations featured in the latest consumer electronics such as smartphones and tablets, are now rapidly finding their way into the vehicles of today. In recent years, automakers have rationalised the number of vehicle platforms and engines used across their model ranges, and increased investment in the areas of vehicle connectivity, data capture and infotainment.
Although prestige brands have been at the forefront of this innovation, it’s now expected that 25% of all new vehicles produced globally will feature vehicle connectivity with third party applications by 2017. From the perspective of automakers, data capture and connectivity are key drivers in generating the increased brand engagement and personalisation that next-generation customers demand.
One automaker that continues to push technology boundaries is Audi, through its strategy ‘Vorsprung durch Technik’ (Staying ahead through technology). In a recent interview, Audi’s R&D leader Ulrich Hackenberg stated that the company will continue to refine its Quattro AWD systems, TDI diesel engines and lightweight construction methods, as well as develop new data and connectivity powered technology. Potential innovations to feature on future models include a virtual cockpit, a more user-friendly navigation control system with intelligent free text and online searching, along with new and revised systems for better parking, security and self-piloted driving.
Let’s get connected
In particular, automakers such as Audi are investing heavily in connectivity and data in order to deliver a more efficient and personalised driving experience. With new systems, reduced traffic congestion could be realised as driver data is transferred to traffic centres, planners and public transport operators. Automakers, dealers and third parties could also access the data to offer the driver tailored services that improve the ownership experience, such as software upgrades navigation systems, increased features for infotainment units or even mechanical issues.
Who owns your driving data?
With data privacy a major talking point in 2014, the potential for issues when future vehicles collect driver data is a concern for drivers. Audi is committed to ensuring that data and information generated by the vehicle remains the property of the vehicle owner. Although the vehicle could use the data to offer the driver services, this would be controlled in a similar fashion to the way smartphone applications gather user data – the vehicle owner would need to opt in and give their consent before data is transferred between the vehicle, automaker, dealer or third parties.
The hackers are coming!
On the presumed threat of hackers remotely steering, accelerating or braking a connected vehicle, Mr. Hackenberg acknowledged the potential risk, but was confident that measures will be in place in case of attacks. Other automakers, such as GM, are already investing heavily in specialist cyber-security departments to keep drivers safe.
Audi x Google
Increasingly, automakers are collaborating with specialist software and technology firms to accelerate the development of data driven systems and achieve seamless integration between portable devices, the cloud and vehicles. Audi is a founding member of the Google Automotive Alliance, a group of over 40 automakers and technology partners that aim to uniformly integrate Android applications into the automobile, and support the development of products and services designed specifically for vehicles.
Automakers see seamless connectivity and integration as key selling points and differentiators, allowing them to deliver a more personalised and rewarding experience for both driver and passenger. For example, smartphones could integrate with next-generation Audi models, identify a driver or passenger, and automatically adjust seating and climate control preferences.
With governments around the world more proactive in legislating against the use of portable devices behind the wheel, the automaker approach appears to be that increased driver safety can be achieved through user-friendly integration between vehicle and device.
Driving the car (or mobile transportation device?) of 2025
According to global automotive leaders, comfort and efficiency, will be further prioritised by future vehicle buyers. The vehicle of 2025 will also relay information with other vehicles on the road, traffic and road infrastructure, and even the vehicle owner’s home.
New powertrain technologies will also feature in the future, as well as new models that are more personalised and better tailored to the individual requirements of owners.
Tell us what you think!
Are you excited for the future of the data driven vehicle and the potential for reduced traffic congestion? Or are you concerned about your privacy and the possibility of hacker attacks?
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