Let’s look at the connected car, or more importantly, what the autonomous car of the future will look like now that we have had a glimpse of what the tech and auto companies are saying here at CES 2018. So for this column, I thought I would give my predictions for the future of the connected car and what you might expect out of those companies that are ratcheting it up in this space.
There is no question that everyone is talking about some pretty cool things here at CES. We are seeing a lot of awesome stuff from AI (artificial intelligence), robotics, machine learning, smart cities, and of course, autonomous intelligence. You name it, it’s here at CES this year. In fact, I have interviewed some awesome people so far on the radio. If you haven’t heard and seen some of the live streams check them out here. twitter.com/connectedwmag
But for this column, I really still want to stay focused on the future of autonomous vehicles/connected cars. For those of you who were able to listen to my regular radio podcast on Tuesday, I predicted we will not only see a lot of cool connected car functionalities and intelligence, but you will also hear more and more as companies unveil their big-picture, ecosystem plans for autonomous vehicles.
Think about it, you can’t have a smart city without talking about how all these things are going to move autonomously. So let’s delve into what will the car of the future look like now that we have had a few more days here at CES to really see what people are dreaming up as their vision of what we might be sitting in—because we won’t be driving it.
At the outset, let me say I recognize this newly connected world does of course open the door for all of us to have greater ecosystem concerns about the security of these connected vehicles. But before we address those, let’s examine what will the car of the future look like?
We already know that there might be some pretty unique looking EV (electric vehicles) like Solo by Electra Meccanica, single-occupant EV, which one-day might be autonomous—but not just yet—but let’s think about this not in terms of what the future cars will physically look like, but rather, what they will be able to do for us as a result of the IoT (Internet of Things).
First, our vehicles will be smarter. They will connect to our personal devices, instantly. They will learn our preferences for traveling such as how we like our seats inclined, what music we like to listen to, what cabin temperature we want (adjusted for the time of day and time of year, of course), and so on. Creepy, but cool, right!
The cars of the future will have conversational AI, allowing us to speak commands to an in-vehicle system that will act like a personal assistant, getting to know us over time. Knowing our appointments, what we want to drink, eat, order, pay, and drive us where we want to go. That means our cars will be placing our food and drink orders, as well as paying for our gasoline. Not only will they pull us into our favorite Starbucks to pick up our Latte, but at 12:20 pm the car will start, warm our seat and then tell us it’s time to pick up our Big Mac around the corner. Our cars will know us and where we want to go knowing our patterns. That means our cars will become our personal drivers. In time, we will no longer require a person to sit behind the steering wheel.
Autonomous vehicles will be safer because they will be able to communicate with other vehicles on the road and with the infrastructure. There will be no more running red lights, no more fender benders because one or more drivers aren’t paying attention, and no more collisions with pedestrians, since vehicles will be able to sense objects and avoid them. Traffic jams will be reduced and traffic congestion will be redirected in times of natural disasters.
When drivers become passengers in their own vehicles, it will create opportunities for new applications aimed at entertaining us in ways we haven’t even imagined just yet. Or maybe we have we just haven’t created it just yet.
Some of the really awesome future hype-stuff that might get some of you concerned about potential hacks might be brain-to-vehicle technology that Nissan talked about that the carmaker unveiled where a brain-wave-tracking skullcap-type system anticipates a driver’s steering; and Nvidia and Volkswagen have teamed up to add AI capabilities to the German automaker’s future models to take the form of “intelligent co-pilot” systems. But who knows what that will mean exactly for voice, gesture, and facial recognition.
Another interesting announcement was the collaboration between Intel and Warner Bros. to develop immersive in-cabin experiences in autonomous vehicles. The two companies already created a proof of concept car to demonstrating their “AV entertainment experience,” showcasing the potential for entertainment in an autonomous driving world.
I can envision this sort of experience integrating not only with AI, but also for in-cabin VR (virtual reality) and AR (augmented reality) applications.
For instance, the connection could allow mobile car washing, grocery delivery, and on-demand fuel delivery companies to securely access vehicle functions, such as the vehicle’s location, and/or a vehicle’s data, such as mileage.
At the LA Auto Show at the end of November last year, Hyundai and Smartcar demonstrated a proof of concept that connects businesses to vehicles via the automaker’s Blue Link technology. Basically, Smartcar’s platform leverages Hyundai Blue Link to send remote functions to the vehicle’s telematics management unit.
Hyundai says the system offers the ease of “plugability,” which opens the door to all kinds of ecosystem services. For instance, the connection could allow mobile car washing, grocery delivery, and on-demand fuel delivery companies to securely access vehicle functions, such as the vehicle’s location, and/or a vehicle’s data, such as mileage.
With Washos, which is an on-demand carwash service, it has the ability to locate your car and access it remotely. You can be anywhere at any time and hire Washos to wash and detail your car, inside and outside, without having to be there physically waiting. It’s a really great idea, and it’s a perfect example of how we need to think bigger when we talk about connected cars of the future. It’s not just about the car; it’s about what our cars will enable us to do—how much time they will free up by being connected and/or autonomous.
Hyundai and Smartcar are essentially demonstrating that by connecting vehicles and their owners with businesses offering desirable services, connectivity could greatly enhance a person’s life in terms of convenience and efficiency. The companies are starting a pilot program called Blue link all-access with California businesses in the first half of 2018.
But just as I suspected when I mentioned this concept on my radio podcast about the idea of businesses accessing your car remotely, even with permission, a bunch of you questioned the safety issue and with good reason. However, security systems are getting better and people are becoming more accepting to the idea of letting access to people you know. At CES, there have been dozens and dozens of announcements about AI applications.
However, when we are talking about unauthorized persons’ gaining access to your vehicle, then we are talking about issues of data security. The main concern is whether these systems are in inadvertently granting access to personal data stored by our vehicles, what could bad guys do with that data if they gained access to it too? This is definitely raises eyebrows for consumers.
When we look at the numbers, cyberattacks targeting connected cars are really not nearly as prevalent as threats to other industries, but sometimes that doesn’t means consumers do not have perceptions of connected and autonomous vehicles being hacked.
Going forward, if automakers are going to convince their customers that autonomous vehicles are designed with safety and convenience in mind, they’re going to need to convince people that criminals aren’t going to steal their data or, worse, take control of their vehicles.
The best way to accomplish this is by constantly articulating a strong message and performing the due diligence upfront and making sure these systems are as safe as possible.
There is no question connected-car and autonomous-vehicle technologies will open the door to so many cool applications. I can envision some of them, but there are so many more we still can’t even begin to predict.
However, we can predict that cybercriminals will look for ways to exploit the connected cars of the future. It’s never too early or too late to begin working on the right defensive strategies to keep the bad actors away.
Want to tweet about this article? Use hashtags #IoT #ThePeggySmedleyShow #blockchain #security #data #cybersecurity #cyberattack #AI #analytics #machinelearning #Nissan #M2M