As you’ve probably noticed, cars have gotten a lot more digital. The most advanced technology available in cars now allows for limited to full autonomous driving, and many have smartphone capabilities built right into the center console.
It’s actually becoming a bit of a tech race; auto manufacturing giants like GM, Ford, and BMW are throwing down a whole lot of money on connected car technology, the goal being to make vehicles even smarter. That means expanding their connectivity.
Other companies are vying to get involved in this process; AT&T recently closed a deal with Ford to power 10 million vehicles with the SYNC interface over five years.
Rolling Wi-Fi hotspots will also be a thing; General Motors has already introduced a 4G LTE connectivity package through its OnStar feature, and then there’s a plethora of startups like Zubie creating WiFi hotspots that plug into your car’s OBD port.
“The internet of things is really what’s driving this,” explains Matt DeWolf, director of mobile strategy at the business vehicles services company Runzheimer.
He believes that a connected car is “an appliance, and it will play a major role in this growing ecosystem of connected devices.”
The Zubie, for example, can notify a smart home that the driver is coming back from work on his or her typical commute. That means the house might start heating or cooling itself depending on the driver’s preferences so that its ready upon arrival.
But what’s the next step in this increasing momentum towards a more connected world? Some analysts believe it’s the idea that cars will talk to each other.
Once vehicles are driving themselves, they will have to communicate with each other and sense their surroundings to determine their smooth and safe operation.
There’s already been progress in this initiative, but a fair amount of details need to be worked out before we can quite get there. A lot of those details aren’t just going to be mulled over in labs; the sluggish legislative branch will have to come to agreement about how autonomous driving can be regulated for the good of everyone.
That said, as cars become more connected, you know they’re becoming better prepared to be autonomous, and a range of factors are coming into play. The internet of things, remote software updates, home automation services tethered into the car… as much as the internet has changed everything, the digitized world is just beginning to spread out into consumer society.
This growth is furthered by the bridging of the gap between Silicon Valley and the auto industry. AT&T has formed business relationships with Porsche, Audi, Tesla, Jaguar Land Rover, Volvo, and five other automakers with the intention that they implement AT&T’s technology in their cars.
“As of last year, over fifty percent of new vehicles rolling off assembly lines were equipped with AT&T connectivity,” stated Chris Penrose, the leader of connected cars at AT&T.
The competition between internet service providers and personal and public transportation devices can be expected to only gain in intensity as time goes on.