Connectivity eases congestion
Since the birth of the automobile, we’ve been hailing and sharing rides, yet ride-hailing and ride-sharing have become central to mobility as a service (MaaS). Every shared car removes ten vehicles from the road, said keynote speaker Akshay Jaising of Maven. Just look at the numbers: car ownership costs an average US$800 a month, before it’s even been driven, said Jaising. And it won’t be driven much anyway – most cars stand unused for over 90% of the time. Why buy a car, when – with just a few swipes of an app – you can use a car whenever you want without the burden of ownership?
MaaS is a “response to the economic and social growth we’re in,” said Launch Forth’s Adam Elmaghraby, representing Local Motors – but three trends need to be combined for that response to be efficient and viable, noted Mark Thomas of Ridecell: car-sharing, ride-sharing and ultimately also autonomy. Jaising’s message backed that up: the automotive industry is evolving, “becoming more autonomous and taking steps in the right direction to connected, autonomous, shared and electric vehicles.”
Parking – what a business!
It’s easy to dismiss parking as a necessary evil, but it’s a big business, worth US$35bn in the US alone and US$100bn globally. Sizeable numbers, for sure, but it’s an industry with considerable cash loss. The holes are being plugged, and the cash loss is coming down, but it’s still as high as 15%, noted Ed Lewis of ParkWhiz. Thanks to connectivity and smart parking, that cash loss can be reduced relatively easily to zero. The parking industry is a big fan of the connected car, because it helps it make more money. That won’t change in the smart cities of the future, but the nature of parking might, with city centre parking a thing of the past thanks to autonomous driving. While the parking industry works out how to survive this paradigm shift, city planners must ensure we don’t move from congestion caused by people looking for parking, to congestion caused by driverless cars heading to and from city-limit parking lots.
Boy, we love our apps
We love apps. The average smartphone contains 119 apps, Ford AppLink’s Timur Pulathaneli. Apps provide users with the data they want and need; in return, the service providers and the OEMs get the data they need and want. It’s during boring commutes that drivers want to use the content on their phone, so the challenge is to deliver that content appropriately to the hundreds of millions of future connected cars, said Pulathaneli – something which Ford aims to do with AppLink and the multi-OEM SDL Platform which enables people to access their apps safely whilst driving. The resultant data transfer rates are eye-watering: a connected car generates 25GB/hour; for an autonomous car, it’s around 170-840GB/hour – per car. Now factor that across a fleet of vehicles. And the number of connected cars
is on the rise; by 2020, we can expect to see anywhere between 220 million connected cars globally, according to Krish Inbarajan, Global Head of Connected Car at Cisco Jasper, and 400 million, according to Green Hills Software’s Chuck Brokish. Getting it right is all-important for future success: “Big Data and AI are key ingredients to next-generation mobility,” said Evangelos Simoudis of Synaps.
Safety and security bookend the connected car
In several languages, safety and security are the same word; Brokish believes safety and security bookend the well-designed connected car. And there’s no place for complacency: a flaw built into one vehicle is replicated across a vehicle platform: “Mass production can ultimately end up in mass destruction,” he warned, adding: “If it’s not secure, it’s not safe” – a theme echoed by Elektrobit’s Walter Sullivan, who discussed the need for secure updates for the automotive industry. The development of the connected car has vastly increased the number of attack surfaces: We’ve advanced, but left ourselves vulnerable, was the common theme.
Another common theme was that anything connected to the internet is vulnerable – and depending on security protocols, it could be exposed to the vulnerabilities introduced by millions of other connected devices. What even is an IoT device? asked Nancy Zayed of MagicCube, noting that IoT devices range from smartphone and Raspberry Pi, right through to a connected car. The big difference is that a connected car is an IoT device moving at 65mph. Again the overlap between safety and security – and one that becomes increasingly important for an autonomous future…
The path to Level 5 autonomy is long
Autonomous driving is coming; the question is, in what form? And when? ‘The path to Level 5 autonomy’ panel featured PSA Group, Luminar Technologies, Renovo Motors and Phantom Auto. We’re a long way from Level 5, would be the headline from the debate – but it can’t come soon enough, would be the qualification.
“Level 5, where the vehicle can drive anywhere and do anything a human can do, is a long way off,” said Elliott Katz, Co-Founder of Phantom Auto. Luminar’s CTO Jason Eichenholz agreed: “We’re 20-25 years out to match human driver awareness and decision-making.” But in order to access the full potential of autonomy in the near future, OEMs need to start getting these vehicles onto the road, said Eichenholz. For Chris Heiser, Renovo’s CEO, speed is of the essence: “The moment robots are 0.001% better than humans, they should be on the roads.”
Life at Level 5 will be safer and more efficient than today, and will benefit society. Getting there will be the challenge. “The complex environment is the biggest challenge, with the infinite number of decisions that must be made,” said Larry Dominique, Chief Executive at PSA Group North America.
This article appeared in the Q2 2018 issue of Automotive Megatrends Magazine.