On April 28 at Car Connections in Palo Alto, Detroit and Silicon Valley converged to discuss the future of transportation. Technology is increasingly important to the auto industry, yet automakers claim that Silicon Valley doesn’t “get” Detroit: innovation must progress within the strictly regulated parameters of privacy, safety and security. But Silicon Valley, perceiving traditional auto players as slow-moving, are moving ahead on their own with Tesla’s S and X class cars and autonomously driven demonstration projects . Nokia Growth Partners and HERE co-sponsored Car Connections to help bridge this gap. At Car Connections over 250 leaders from OEMs, tier 1 suppliers and start-ups discussed the future of intelligent driving exploring differing interests and collaboration opportunities between Detroit and Silicon Valley.
What’s Happening in the Car?
While autonomous driving has garnered much attention, the promise of intelligent driving is more immediate and further-reaching. Cars, the largest unconnected consumer device with over 850 million unconnected vehicles globally, represent a massive opportunity. The car is one of the last remaining digital white spaces: the average U.S. driver spends 52 minutes in a car daily, 76% of that time alone, with little more than broadcast radio for entertainment. Over 1.2 million lives are lost each year globally and over 90% of accidents are caused by human error.
Intelligent driving is part of the solution as cars get connected. Offering a 2020 view on car connectivity, one panelist estimated that 72% of cars will be connected within the next six years. By the end of 2020, there will be 150 million connected vehicles, including over 100 million with dynamic two-way communications, as part of a larger network of more than 50 billion connected things. Once cars are connected, intelligent driving promises a broad range of new opportunities, including improved safety, personalized infotainment, improved product life management and predictive maintenance, and usage based insurance. Optimized navigation will include parking and personal recommendations for to-do items that can be accomplished in route.
Of course, connected cars are already here laying the groundwork for more automated vehicles in the future. Today, consumers can connect their iPads to a Wi-Fi hotspot using OnStar with 4G LTE network connectivity. Infotainment systems are looking more like touchscreens on our personal devices with easy access to navigation, infotainment and weather. Advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) solutions are already making roads safer with features such as blind spot monitoring, collision avoidance and lane change assistance.
Still, industry observers acknowledged that, while much of the technology needed for self-driving cars is in place, fully autonomous driving is more than a decade away although partially or highly automated systems could appear within five years. Fully autonomous driving currently works in ideal conditions. Even if autonomous driving proves safer, perceptual issues and liability for technical error remains a significant challenge. Legislation is also a roadblock: currently only five states in the U.S. have enacted legislation that allows autonomous vehicles.
Data, Data Everywhere
More data has been generated in the past three years than in the entire prior history of mankind. Data emanating from cars are expected to increase more than 100x in the next ten years generating petabytes of data through vehicles’ sensors. The first autonomous drive across the U.S. recently by Delphi generated more than three terabytes of driving data.
Leveraging auto data is essential for intelligent driving. Data experts from outside the auto industry spoke of the need for a data ownership model among OEMs, Tier 1s and car owners. Data sharing offers a more comprehensive view and the auto industry’s long history of sharing suppliers for non-proprietary parts could facilitate a broad data sharing program. Yet different data ownership models should apply for different use cases. Each use case and data model needs to be considered carefully for its specific use case.
One observer noted that we need to rethink how we see cars – not as driving machines, but as mobile data platforms. Cars will generate much data, more than can economically be transferred to the cloud. Cars offer a large computing platform so that much of the data can be processed within the car.
Yet, for many applications including navigation, cars should be considered as node in a web of other vehicles rather than in isolation. Embedded map systems may be the brains of the car made smarter and safer with over-the-air (OTA) cloud updates with each car as a probe providing live updates and better context to other vehicles on the road.
Disruption in the Transportation Ecosystem
Cars are one of our most valuable, yet under-utilized assets. Consumers spend more on cars than any other asset besides homes, yet they are used less than 10% of the time. Urban Millennials are increasingly opting out as car ownership costs $50-75 per day in many cities. This trend is likely to accelerate as new alternatives emerge for the carless, restless class. However, one presenter noted that its research showed that Millennials still value cars and suggested recent studies may have been taken during the Great Recession, which may have negatively influenced Millennial attitudes towards car ownership. Regardless, connected cars and smartphones create opportunities and challenges for the auto sector as transport options multiply and become easier to access in real time.
Ridesharing models from Uber and Lyft and car sharing models from Turo and Flightcar are already having significant impact on how people think about transportation and car ownership. Yet this is only the first order effect. Cities today are organized around their transportation infrastructure and they look very different today in an auto centric world than a century ago before the car. The cities of tomorrow could look quite different as new transportation models emerge. Intelligent driving should reduce congestion, accidents and time lost commuting. Tomorrow’s car could be a shared vehicle and today’s garage could be an AirBNB residence.
Who wins in an Intelligently Driven Connected Car world: Silicon Valley or Detroit? We have seen from other sectors that disruption creates an opportunity for new winners, often from outside the industry. Both Detroit and Silicon Valley have a proud history of innovation and industry leadership, but the ultimate winners could come from elsewhere. European OEMs are pushing the frontiers and Shenzhen is reportedly going from prototype design to model car in six weeks. In this sense, as Car Connections underscored, Silicon Valley and Detroit have more to gain by collaborating than competing.
HERE 360, the official HERE blog, covered the event in three separate posts:
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