The hottest trend in the automotive sector over the last few years has been that of Connected Cars. Over the years, vehicles became an extension of our connectivity and services got to cater the diverse needs. This trend got latched with the advent of Smart phone communication and that led to connectivity in a vehicle spread its tentacles to reach out multiple nodes through various interfaces – “in and out” of the car.
The “Big Three” of North America (Ford, Chrysler and General Motors) have already invested heavily in this direction as has almost every big automobile manufacturer across Europe, Asia and Japan. Regulatory bodies NHTSA, Silicon companies, Operating Systems vendors, Urban Mobility, MNOs, Hosting partners, Service providers, Tier-1s and Enterprise IT providers are all getting involved in the ‘connected cars’ solution support. Analytics and Cloud infrastructure goes hand in hand. After market Navigation Engine providers such as Garmin, TomTom, Navigon, social media companies as well as big giants such as Google, Amazon, IBM, Microsoft are all aligned towards Connected cars solution building. Telematics platform vendors like Wirelesscars, Airbiquity also play key roles. Basically Companies across different sectors are actively working towards making connected cars a reality – which can be seen as a complete amalgamation of various services packed into one solution.
All of this development is being driven in the first instance by the Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM’s). All the other players are working to the requirements being set by the OEM’s. This also includes the incubators, the start-ups and of course the associations and bodies, which certify and qualify these kinds of solutions. This involvement across so many different businesses is necessitated by the very nature of the connected car project, which requires many different technologies to come together and work with each other.
This is because of the very nature of the ‘connected vehicle’ concept. One way of understanding this concept is to look at it from the outside the connected car, that is to say, to think about it in terms of the signals, which will be exchanged between the car and outside entities and the IT, Cloud and Telecommunications infrastructure which will support this. One can also look at it from inside the vehicle, that is, to think of the connected vehicle in terms of the in-car system built around the platform itself, the infotainment system, mobile integration, driver assistance, computing applications, wearables and the Human Machine Interface (HMI) for all of this. Thus, the connected car concept is packed both inside as well as outside with a whole host of technologies and it is the coming together of all this that basically creates the connected car.
The three basic pillars around which the concept is built are the connectivity providers, the hardware providers and the software providers. The connectivity providers are basically the Telecom companies like AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, Vodafone etc which provide the carrier signal for connectivity and the Telematics platform vendors who monetize the connectivity and features for the connected vehicle. Vehicle to Vehicle (V2V) and Vehicle to Infrastructure (V2X) communications is another area of technology which uses DSRC devices for communication. The hardware providers of course are the silicon chip makers like TI, Intel, Nvidia, Freescale, Qualcomm etc which provide the basic platform on top of which the entire solution is realized. The third and final pillar is provided by the software providers who provide the porting or operating system on top of which the middleware can be integrated and an application realized – these players include Microsoft, Linux Foundation, QNX, Electrobit etc. Along with this eco-system, apps such as urban mobility, navigational aids, driver warning systems, social media and entertainment applications all of which form a part of the extended solution.
This profusion of players and technologies is, in fact, one of the biggest challenges facing ‘connected vehicles’ today. Where earlier 5 or 6 players could come together to create a product, now there are 20-25 entities from across different industries which need to standardize their processes and come together in a way that is profitable for every party. With so many different parties being involved, every additional party adds a new layer of complexity and exponentially increases the difficulties involved.
Another big challenge that the industry needs to grapple with relates to cybersecurity. This is natural, given the fact that there are so many end-point connections happening from within the car to outside entities whether they are other cars, mobiles or just the basic cloud and server infrastructure. Each of these connections is a potential vulnerability and this is where cybersecurity becomes absolutely important in shielding the entire system from such threats. An underlying component is active safety with regard to V2V & V2X communications and solutions in this area are continuously evolving with players such as Savari, RoboCV, Kymeta (who work on Satellite mobile based Connected Cars solution) etc
Another issue that needs to be solved is the multiplicity of certifying bodies across the globe which tend to have slightly different standards for different regions. While this is not a challenge as such, solving it will go a long way in improving the economics of ‘connected cars’. Despite all these challenges, the ‘connected cars’ concepts, solutions and deployments are progressing rapidly.
Capgemini too, is offering its capabilities in this landscape. We already have strengths in the sense that we have a well-developed expertise related to car-related solutions as well as infrastructure related expertise. All in all, we have almost 80+ assets or demos that are applicable and can be leveraged for ‘connected cars’. These provide very good jump starts or levers in cutting short the time to build a solution prototype.
Given our backing of Infotainment and connectivity based product development, we are able to address this market very effectively with the practice areas including ADAS, Telematics, Mobility along with niche COEs like Functional Safety, Autosar, UX and Cybersecurity. Testing and related automation is one of the big game changers for us and key ammunition to address requirements holistically.
We have segregated these assets into 4 different classes represented by the quadrants given below:
Connected Customer – The first quadrant consists of assets dealing with end-user solutions and how they can be packed together in a connected vehicle.
Connected Vehicle – In the second quadrant are assets which deal with strategy and execution related to some of the core parts of the vehicle in terms of how they behave as a node in a network.
Connected Insights – The third quadrant consists of assets which transform data into actionable insights and competitive advantage for our clients.
Connected Operations – The fourth quadrant contains assets which can help transform our clients operations.
For instance, we already have a number of assets which relate to wellness such as wearables which could be cross-leveraged to track driver health and deliver early warnings and can fit neatly into the ‘connected cars’ solution. Another interesting project is known as driver notification which addresses the wellness parameters through Cloud based analytics. It is basically a solution which will notify the driver as well as the back-end about any emergency situations. So it might simultaneously reach out and send distress signals to the nearest hospital informing them about vehicle number and location and ask for help. At the same time, it will also notify the driver about where to go for immediate assistance.
We have held successful workshops and hosted these solutions in our Applied Innovation Exchanges (AIEs) to showcase some of these solutions that are being developed. In these day-long events, we bring together all our aligned partners under one roof to discuss and showcase these solutions and concepts, aligned to the target / potential customer. In case you too would like to be a part of such a session/workshop please do reach out to email@example.com
I am much excited about the potential of ‘connected cars’ as a solution and how it would scale further in the market given the speed of its evolution. Would surely like to hear your thoughts on the same.