So far, standards are being defined in a fragmented manner with Europe and the US using differing approaches. However, global standardisation is a must as cars cross national boundaries. The last half-century or so has taught us that in-country standards can stunt progress.
A step-change in global business was achieved through the technology revolution — widespread adoption of the Internet and an explosion in data — which was all made possible through the universal standard of IP, which allows seamless industry communication. This is exactly what we need for the Internet of Things (IoT) and more specifically, for connected cars.
The good news is that governments are serious about this progress and indications are that they will work towards a common goal. For example, on-board diagnostics in cars have already been standardised across the UK, US and Europe.
Connectivity possibilities for the wide spectrum of businesses concerned with the automotive industry then become numerous and varied. A car experiencing a mechanical problem could communicate the fault to the manufacturer or dealership. If the problem is serious, it could generate an alert for an instant appointment, if not it could schedule a service, perhaps even interacting with a calendar app to make a provisional booking.
Should a driving accident occur, notifications to police and medical services can be made almost automatically, and the same goes for information conveyed to insurers.
As driverless and connected cars continue to develop, they can gradually approach a state of full autonomy — the prospect of independent transport where humans are completely absent. This can usher in the era of fully automated delivery, with the potential to revolutionise aspects of the service industry. For example, in 10 or 15 years' time we could receive our pizzas via a fully autonomous pizza delivery vehicle that drops-off the takeaway and is able to receive payments by credit card.
The possibilities are boundless and impressive. Getting to this level of connectivity is not going to be without its issues, of course. At the top of that list is security, which is of paramount importance. With this level of networked communication, the dangers posed by anyone capable and motivated enough to hack the system could be serious. Moving vehicles are dangerous objects and the thought of them responding to false commands or information, potentially bringing about accidents, is a sobering one. The need for robust security and a thorough understanding of data privacy and its uses are therefore major considerations to keep in mind as the connected car matures and evolves.
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