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April 2020
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The rise of the connected car

Paul Moorby, Managing Director, Chipside

Connected cars are one of the most hyped technologies in the ‘internet of things’ (IoT) sphere, sending and receiving real time information from the world around them. Not only can they connect with people and emergency services, they can also be connected to other cars and the road network’s infrastructure. I can only begin to imagine the range of capabilities we can expect from connected vehicles over the coming decade.

Connected parking

In 2018, 39 million journeys ended in a parking space every day in the UK. If not managed effectively, parking can be a stressful experience for drivers. The average motorist in the UK spends nearly four days every year (around 91 hours) looking for parking spaces, according to research from the British Parking Association (BPA). However, this is not down to a lack of parking spaces, with data showing that some car park occupancy rates in the UK can be as low as 50 per cent. This alone is driving the advancement of connected-vehicle technology to supply useful parking information to drivers to make journeys hassle-free and potentially safer.

Connected vehicles can direct drivers towards available car park spaces, identify the cheapest price tariffs and can even make parking payments through the dashboard. I have witnessed projects around the world that are seeking to deliver true transformation using connected vehicle technology.

Reducing our environmental impact

Vast amounts of data can be analysed using connected cars in the hope of guiding a more sustainable future for us all. This IoT technology will be able to provide real-time information about parking, maps and accidents, which will help traffic flow in cities and in turn, reduce congestion. In theory, the more connected cars we have, the more data we have to support a sustainable and smart future.

As more of an emphasis is put on the environment, questions have been raised about whether we need cars or not. Technology identifies and analyses data to inform future sustainable decisions. For example, a new tarmac mix might reduce aggregate use, but it might also cause a marked increase in ABS use in cars. The environment changes minute by minute, and there is no reason our car configuration cannot adapt too. Connected cars could – if used correctly, with small tweaks in real time – reduce congestion and pollution.

Data as the currency for connection

Built-in car computers are no new phenomenon – cars have been generating data for years.  However, the data is usually of a technical nature (mileage, fluid levels, engine status etc.) and are only stored locally and temporarily. The amount and type of available car data is growing exponentially as cars become more connected. The potential lies in the sharing of this data. There are benefits to be had from connected cars and it seems sharing data will have to be accepted by drivers to take advantage of them. It is about the balance between being able to move freely through a town or city and being fully controlled by the state.

Real time data leads to more real time information. There is a major difference between data (e.g. the road ahead is closed) and information (e.g. you can’t go to work via car today). These are the same data points, from different people, with different viewpoints, and result in different information.

Connected cars can deliver personalised data highlighted in real time, both overt and covert. Covert might be “adjust fuel mix in current foggy conditions” whereas overt might be “please don’t drive down North Street – pollution is high”.

What are the risks?

With any IoT device, there is always the risk of data being intercepted. There is an obvious and demonstrable threat of hacking and vehicle theft. In 2015, Chrysler had to recall 1.4 million vehicles after two security researchers had been able to remotely control a Jeep over the Internet, taking over the vehicle’s dashboard, steering, brakes, and transmission.

There are also other potential dangers involved with connected cars. Tapping in a route to the airport? There is a fair chance your house will be empty overnight. Are you sat in your car talking about commercially sensitive matters with work? That information might be intercepted and published. Going to a protest rally? Now your engine will not start.

It is estimated that there are approximately 21 million connected cars on the roads globally today, and researchers predict that by 2020 this number will grow to 200 million. With more of these vehicles on the road, the potential sites of cyber-attacks increase. Although these risks need to be managed, the opportunities of connected vehicle technology are immense and evident.

Chipside is working with partners around the world to empower motorists in this exciting new era of connectivity. We believe shared knowledge is power and the Big Data we can collect and analyse from connected vehicles enables big decisions to be made, accelerating the power of smart cities. At Chipside we are also taking part in discussions that will shape future legislation that will put the UK front and centre in the future of technology.

Article by Paul Moorby, Managing Director, Chipside.

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