Analysis
5 Jun 17

Smart mobility: Time to get smart & connected

Everything we drive is an effervescent source of data. 5G, IoT and self-learning software are about to make mobility management a many-splendored thing.

Trying to map the possibilities of connected technology in the mobility space is tremendously challenging. Figuratively speaking, we can only see a few hundred metres ahead, to the edge of our car’s LED headlights’ bundle, but nobody knows what awaits us further down the road – let alone beyond the horizon: technology evolves at a pace unimaginable twenty years ago.

What is certain, however, is that it will transform the way we move and how companies provide mobility to their employees. The industry is bracing for a shake-up, from OEM to car dealer, from lessor to end user. There is serious doubt as to whether companies will still lease their vehicles and attribute every one of them to a single user ten years from now. Perhaps an individually used company car (re)becomes the privilege of few.

Third living space

Shared or personal, venues like Mobile World Congress in Barcelona indicate that ‘driving’ is bound to become ‘riding along’, opening up a cornucopia of online services which make our car an extension of our home and our office. Or, as engineering company Bosch calls it, a third living space. Self-driving cars – or at least highly automated ones – will make each journey safer and more comfortable.

But there is more: many technology companies see cars becoming personal assistants, saving their user valuable time. According to Bosch’s ‘Connected car effect 2025’ study, automated driving could enable people who drive a lot to make better use of some 100 hours of their time each year. As the car is an active part of the Internet of Things (IoT), users can continue their digital lives when they step aboard, sending e-mails to the office, video conferencing with colleagues and customers, et cetera.

Increased safety and accuracy

Today, it takes a long time before vital information is transmitted to drivers. Cloud-based systems will drastically speed up the spread of crucial warnings. Imagine your car’s stability control detects a slippery road surface on a certain location. Would it not be great that this (anonymized) information is shared immediately with other drivers through the internet? Likewise, cars can report available parking spots, avoiding millions of kilometres in driving distance, not to mention congestion and time loss, by guiding drivers directly to them.

Another noteworthy application is the one under development by Qualcomm Technologies and TomTom. Different vehicle sensors are collected and analysed, supporting cars to determine their location, monitor and learn driving patterns, perceive their surroundings and share this ‘visual’ information with the rest of the world. The new allows vast numbers of connected cars to see and interpret their environment, supporting real-time input for map and road condition updates.

Savings potential

Apart from better time utilization whist on the go and safer motoring altogether, connected cars offer plenty of perks to the fleet manager, too. Think about usage-based insurance, remote vehicle diagnostics, predictive maintenance, automated logging of business versus private journeys, instant mileage registration and – if necessary – contract adaptation, et cetera. The cost and red tape savings potential is impressive, to say the very least.

Finally, connected cars could open up the road to easy ride-sharing amongst colleagues and hence reduce costs. Knowing how, where and when your vehicles are used, means you could avoid people travelling from and to the same location in different cars. Or you could organise switch-overs along the way. Also, connectivity could reduce the need for pool cars. The possibilities are endless. The repercussions tantalising.   

Authored by: Dieter Quartier