• February 23, 2017

What Decisions Is Your Connected Car Making for You?

And how will that technology play in the enterprise?

Featuring Jim Miller, Chief Technologist,  Manufacturing, Automotive, Aerospace, and Defense industries, and Fellow, Enterprise Services

Long before Jim Miller chose his current career path, the Michigan native had dreams of one day embracing his inner Jetson by walking out his front door and hopping into his flying car. In a young Miller’s mind, those dreams would come to fruition by the year 2000.

That obviously never happened. But there are plenty of things happening with connected cars that make Miller extremely excited about the future of the automobile industry.

“Most people are becoming pretty familiar with basic infotainment (Apple CarPlay) and safety concierge services (OnStar), but there’s so much more happening behind the scenes that drivers aren’t even aware of,” Miller explains. “Things like onboard diagnostics that can detect issues before they become major problems and parental controls that let parents monitor the location of teenage drivers and set boundaries that alert them if their child goes outside of them.”

And that’s just the beginning, he says.

V2V, V2I, and the Future of the Connected Car

Some of the most exciting initiatives currently under development in the North American market center around vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) innovation.

These types of connected technologies and services are mainly targeted toward safety and collision avoidance, with the ultimate goal of creating a network where cars—and objects around them like traffic lights, stop signs, guardrails, etc.—will seamlessly communicate. As a result, they’ll be able to do things like assess the location and distance between objects to avoid contact.

Miller says early results show that these technologies can prevent collisions in 70 to 80 percent of instances where an accident would have happened without intervention. “The technology already exists,” he says. “But legal, regulatory, and infrastructure roadblocks must be cleared before it’s deployed on a broad scale.”

The Connected Car Isn’t Just for the Consumer

On the commercial vehicle side, Miller says companies are working on technology that will enable “platooning”—where large commercial trucks will be able to communicate and drive down the highway in very close proximity. This will allow the trucks to draft off each other, which can create significant gains in fuel efficiency. There’s also the potential for the enterprise to more effectively track its fleets and payloads, and perform proactive diagnostics.

“That might not sound very exciting, but think about it on a mass scale for a large enterprise with huge reliance on logistics,” Miller says. “Just a 5 percent improvement in fuel efficiency could mean massive bottom-line savings.”

Another area where Miller sees opportunity for the enterprise is in the collection and processing of the vast amount of data that connected cars will eventually create. “Whoever can take advantage of the bits and pieces of data that will be out there and turn it into value for consumers and the enterprise will be immense,” he says. “The sheer volume of data coming off of vehicles will be incredible.”

It’s Not All Fun and Games: The Risk of Security and Privacy

To understand the risks and challenges associated with connected cars, however, you need only look at the recent Jeep hack that allowed hackers to remotely kill a car’s engine while it was driving on the highway.

For advanced V2V and V2I technologies to be viable in the near-term, Miller says automobile manufacturers, innovators, and the enterprise will need to work together to put security infrastructure in place that protects against these kinds of issues.

“As valuable as it would be for your car to know that there’s construction on your route and to automatically detour around it, you don’t necessarily want the government or public institutions tracking the location of any given vehicle as it goes down the road,” Miller explains. “We have a long way to go as it relates to making people feel comfortable handing over the controls.”

Still, he is confident that security and privacy issues will be worked out. And when they are, is Miller’s childhood vision of a Jetson-esque flying car next?

“I’m not holding my breath on that one,” he admits. “But there’s no doubt we’re heading into a really exciting time — for both consumers and the companies that will deliver these services.”


Like this article? Read more on the future of the automotive industry.