IoT applications have given the green light to the concept of connected vehicles. That’s right, the Internet has reached out to touch yet another aspect of our life — our mobility.
But what are these Web-driven vehicles and what makes them rock? Sensors and high-speed mobile services are their eyes and ears on the road, receiving and sending information in real time about pretty much everything — e.g., other vehicles, the surrounding infrastructure, pedestrians, etc.
These computers on wheels can drive themselves to destination; warn you of external hazard miles ahead; call emergency services in case of an accident; or even schedule their own maintenance check, with your permission, of course.
Well, that takes away many things to worry about. But let’s not forget about the original thrill that cars gave to their drivers — the power that comes from having total control behind the wheel. Are we willing to hand it over to a machine?
Checkpoints Up Ahead
While connected vehicles provide a renewed sense of direction, they are also giving motorists second thoughts.
First off, are we trading the dangers of driving for something worse? Hackers, the scourge of the Web, might just be given another toy to enslave and take apart. Imagine if you’re inside that toy when they do it.
Connectivity, the very essence of the idea itself, could also be a source of friction. Your smartphone losing signal at times is no big deal. But your self-driving car suffering poor network coverage is preoccupying while you’re cruising at top speed on the interstate!
What’s more, how should it all work from a technology standpoint? Should vehicles’ connection to the Internet be built-in or brought-in? The former, where all capabilities are integrated into the car, means no compatibility or interoperability issues but makes the upgrade of specific parts more difficult.
The latter, where external devices are added to the passenger compartment, offers more flexibility and allows to bring older vehicles up to speed instead of retiring them prematurely.
Finally, we have to contend with the issue of distraction. All those apps and devices boasting every imaginable infotainment could take our mind off the road for a split second — enough to change the course of everything.
Connected Vehicle Applications
On land, sea, and air, connected vehicles are redefining our experience of travel both in a personal and business context. Let’s hitch a ride into some of the applications.
- Apps keep track of car’s location and allow drivers to activate features remotely, e.g., unlocking doors, activating climate control, etc.
- Mobile services check traffic in real time, conduct remote vehicle diagnostics, or call for emergency help automatically.
- Smartphone-connected transport utilities enable passengers to make online ticket purchases.
- Wi-Fi connection on board of planes, trains, and buses provides entertainment and connectivity.
- Sensors connect traffic signals and emergency response vehicles to allow them to exchange data in real time and facilitate quick transit.
- Patient data is sent to relevant medical professionals and response units while on the way to the hospital.
- Sensors track the location and condition of faraway container ships in light of weather condition and potential dysfunctions.
- Sensors monitor the temperature, oxygen, and CO2 levels inside refrigerated containers to ensure the integrity of their contents.
- Connected tractors optimize routes, shorten harvesting time, monitor fuel usage, and ease the tedious crop treatment.
- Sensors detect loss of performance and immediately recommend pre-emptive measures to prevent downtime.
Connected vehicles have arrived and are being met with a mixture of praise and skepticism. The debate continues, but it won’t stop these smart vehicles from taking us for an unexpected ride with new technologies and applications.