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Connected cars accelerate into smarter future

Connected vehicles are cars with direct access to the Internet. They consume, create, supplement, direct, and share digital information with everything from traffic lights to home appliances. And though many may not realise this, the connected car is possibly the most visible and familiar aspect of the Internet of Things.

For years, smart vehicles have quietly synced with our daily lives – linking to our mobile phones through Bluetooth, enabling faster journey times by analysing real-time traffic news, offering safety nets such as roadside emergency assistance. Some cars even carry on-board Wi-Fi.

More recently, driverless cars have dominated headlines. Google’s Self Driving Cars Project is coming to London for trial; their artificial intelligence system has won approval from safety regulators in the US, meaning it could be considered the driver under federal law; and their chip makers, ARM Holdings, have also reported on the ‘great opportunity’ of connected cars as they move away from smartphones.

The connected car is here

It’s clear the connected cars industry is no longer nascent.

In fact, connected car technology is speeding into the next generation.

Many of today’s cars have the computing power of twenty or more personal computers. They feature over 100 million lines of programming code, processing up to 30 gigabytes of data every hour.

Not only has this seen a rise in interest from investors – the global market for 'connected cars' is predicted to grow from €40.3bn (£31.3bn) in 2016 to €122.6bn (£95.2bn) by 2021 – but it is creating significant opportunities for businesses and consumers alike.

The biggest growth is expected to be in safety features (€49.3bn/£38.3bn), including smart collision technology and emergency call systems such as the now mandatory eCall. This is followed by autonomous driving technology (€39.6bn/£30.7bn) as well as in-car products that enhance mobility and vehicle management (€12.7bn/£9.9bn). The latter includes products such as AutoTrip, which uses connected technology to automate data logging and transform how businesses interact with their car fleets.

At the moment, there is a lack of reliable data on how corporate fleets work. Around twenty per cent of mileage data is inaccurate and almost always significantly delayed. By making this process more accurate and efficient, digitising driver mileage opens up a raft of possibilities for companies. Not least of these would be a more streamlined service, saving resources and allowing for finances to go where better used.

Moreover, with machine learning and algorithms, this data can provide tailored solutions to solve such issues within a system. There would be no need for a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to efficiency as the data would allow administrators to harness the information and apply it directly to their own situation.

The Internet of Cars

The Internet of Cars is addressing similar pain points across many motor-dependent businesses. With applications for creating a more sustainable transport ecosystem, we will see an increase in products that can track emissions, in-car data, and much more.

After all, vehicle and mobility management products will continue to boom and as they do they will reduce operating costs and increase ease of use for drivers and fleet owners. They will track performance and maintenance needs. They will help vehicles move from place to place in a greener ways due to rising congestion and pollution. They will generate long-term incremental revenue.

This is why the technology available today will shape tomorrow. It has the potential to do much more than accelerate the rate at which driverless cars hit the roads.

It has the potential to disrupt motoring completely: to change the way we drive and the way we live.

Alexander Nicholson is the Co-Founder and Managing Director of AutoTrip