For fans of displacement, performance and design are not enough: they are now more and more interested in “connected car” features. For manufacturers, this means that they must master a new world in which they are confronted with the competition of high-tech companies. But there is another way: that of collaboration between the two industries. Example.
Connected cars and autonomous driving are the main themes of the moment in the automotive sector. If not so long ago, fans of motorcycles were primarily interested in the performance and look of vehicles, digital features are now more and more attention. For car manufacturers, the challenges are many, especially in the face of rising competition from the high-tech sector in general, and pioneers of Silicon Valley in particular. There is however an intermediate path: that of the collaboration between the two industries.
IoT platforms in connected car engines
Let’s start by sketching a brief sketch of the connected car concept. Of course, this new vehicle must meet the traditional imperatives of speed, security, and comfort, but not only: the Internet of Things (IoT) makes it a real hub of communication. Thus, during the journey, cars routinely collect the latest traffic data that they intersect with online information from other sources.
In addition to the latest real-time information on the traffic situation, the available parking spaces and the state of their vehicles, drivers benefit from intelligent forecasts of possible traffic jams (time and place) and hazardous areas (risks of traffic jams). aquaplaning, ice storm, etc.). Better still: the connected car analyzes the data of the planned route to look for cases of breakdowns, accidents or incidents related to damaged pavement plots.
The strength of this technology lies in its ability to collect data, then analyze and interpret it in real time to present it to the driver instantly. To give life to this technology, nothing beats native cloud platforms and data analysis algorithms. A native cloud platform is an elastic, scalable, and extremely robust system that assumes that infrastructures, networks, and entire IT assets are fallible and interchangeable. The system is a structured, highly automated platform for seamless interaction between resources, processes, application development and continuous deployment. For example, Amazon and Netflix are, each in their own way, two pioneers of development on native cloud platforms.
Smart forecasting and enhanced security
Ideally, an embedded IoT system will have to rely on a native cloud platform on which will be added the various individual elements. In addition to IoT components, sensors and other mobile and integrated applications, this type of system use the Big Data and Fast Data technologies required for data analysis algorithms. As the backbone of the IoT system, the native cloud platform represents the point of interaction of the various services. Sensor and log data are processed via micro-services. Finally, the platform delivers applications throughout their lifecycle: load balancing, message waiting, tracking, scaling, and application performance management. Mercedes-Benz offers us a perfect example of a connected car application: the German manufacturer has relied on the native cloud platform Pivotal Cloud Foundry to develop its application “Mercedes me”. In the end, only four months will have elapsed between the presentation of the first prototype and the free download of the application.
Let’s discover the main characteristics of the connected car according to Mercedes-Benz and Pivotal. The number of revolutions per minute, speed, fuel consumption, acceleration or engine temperature: all these data are collected either via an API or via instruments on older vehicles. A smartphone or smartwatch receives this information that it enriches with geolocation data before loading it into the cloud. Smart forecasts can be made and presented to the driver based on the data collected and the traffic situation. And that’s not all: wherever they are, users have the ability to check the status of their vehicle via the Mercedes my app. Other features, such as locking/opening the doors or auxiliary heating, also work remotely. As for the updates, they are carried out automatically, quickly and easily in OTA (over the air). It is only the tip of the iceberg. In fact, autonomous driving is becoming more and more in the realm of possibilities as the security solutions progress and the automated emergency management functions alert the competent services in case of breakdown or accident.
The need for new approaches
For car manufacturers, the challenge is not only to collect the data, but also to analyze and interpret it as quickly as possible. Objective: to inform the driver in real time of important incidents on his journey. However, the collection and processing of data is not the core business of manufacturers. However, the latter will be led, in the near future, to simultaneously process the data of millions of vehicles: an impossible task for traditional systems. From the design of new applications that customers expect to create platforms for data collection and processing, today’s automakers need to move closer to IT companies to develop innovative real-time applications.
However, IoT platforms will have to go even further to enable the automotive industry to rapidly develop customized applications and services for its customers. To do this, development cycles will have to be considerably shortened and current software improved. Ideally, updates and fixes should take place in small touches on a daily basis.
Not only will this shortening of development cycles make the business more agile, but it will also help detect and fix potential security breaches more quickly. The enthusiasm for IoT should not overshadow the importance of cybersecurity. Especially in the field of connected cars, where data piracy and malicious manipulation could endanger the lives of drivers and passengers. This is why IoT platforms must also be permanently protected against external attacks. Manufacturers will also need to inform their customers about the use of their data, including how it is processed, analyzed and stored over the long term.
Transformation: IT is a means and not an end
Modern companies clearly know that the Internet of Things, the cloud, Big Data and other technologies of the future are the key drivers of their future growth. IT alone opens up a new field of possibilities that sees the emergence of innovative business models in niche markets that are set to develop. The connected car and carpooling services also reflect this wind of transformation in the automotive sector. At a time when ICT is becoming increasingly important in business, traditional builders need to adapt their processes and structure to emerging missions and issues. Of course, these changes will not happen overnight. The trip will probably be long and fraught with failures. But it is by making mistakes that we learn. At the end of the road, a renewed business model will enable a company to create new products, improve customer satisfaction and boost growth.