Vehicle Connectivity

Automotive suppliers and companies from other fields are jockeying to team up with the right group of partners to provide services for connected vehicles and smart cities. The collaborations cross boundaries to include insurance companies, app providers and public services as well as a range technology suppliers. Connected vehicles are rapidly moving into the mainstream, putting pressure on companies to figure out what services and features they want to offer. App companies, cellular and satellite providers, insurance companies, data centers and service providers are all struggling to cash in on the connected car boom. Communication companies like Ericsson are attempting to help vehicle owners find the apps and services they need. Ericsson created a center for app and service providers.

Automakers also detailed the need for multiple partnerships, which are often called an “ecosystem,” during the 2017 TU-Automotive Detroit conference. These ecosystems build upon alliances that have been established in recent years. Consumers who spend much of their time connected to the Web are pressing automakers to provide far-ranging amenities. Today’s technology lets service providers offer a broad range of offerings, making it difficult to determine what users might want and how they can earn revenue. For example, insurance companies that use connectivity to track mileage must decide what else they want to do.

The challenge facing automotive suppliers extends to the public sector. More urban planners are exploring ways to use connectivity to reduce congestion by using vehicle data to adjust stoplights and help drivers quickly find parking, among many other tasks. However, creating the digital infrastructure needed to support various services won’t be cheap, so private companies may be asked to help pay for equipment. This infrastructure will probably include V2V and V2I (vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure) communications. That is expected to reduce accidents, which cost communities and drivers millions of dollars and copious time. When vehicles communicate in this fashion, security is paramount. Green Hills Softwareis addressing this security by partnering with Autotalks and Commsignia to address the huge volume of certificates that will be needed to limit communication to authorized transponders.

Many conference speakers noted that innovative offerings will often come from startups, which can pose challenges for large companies that aren’t used to finding and working with tiny companies. OEMs and Tier 1s will have to devise strategies that let them work with many different partners without spending getting bogged down. While cellular communications will play a central role in connected services, these links may not be the most effective technology for OEMs to transmit over the air (OTA) updates, monitor vehicles’ diagnostic and other tasks. Satellite provider Inmarsat has partnered with Continental to offer OEMs a global network. Handling all this data brings management services and big data analysis into the fray. Rush-hour traffic may tax the data handling capabilities of infrastructure equipment that’s sending infotainment files to vehicles while collecting traffic and safety information. The amount of data created by vehicles will soar even higher when autonomy becomes real. That will impact processing requirements on vehicles and off.