How it’s all connected: the role of connectivity in autonomous vehicles

Connectivity is at the heart of modern life and, as technology has advanced, it’s also transformed our driving experience. Today, we can control our car via our mobile phone and trust our vehicle to park itself. But how will we interact with autonomous cars over the next few decades? And, more crucially, how will driverless vehicles connect to the world around them to guarantee comfort and safety of passengers?

Within the next 30 years, it’s likely that people will view a car as an extension of their personal technology portfolio alongside a smartphone, tablet or computer. Now that we’re always connected to these devices, we’re accustomed to instant outcomes—and driverless cars offer quick and affordable transport solutions. The runaway popularity of app-based taxi services like Uber are a testament to the market demand for this type of convenience.

If passengers are not behind the wheel of a car, then a journey from point A to point B becomes an experience-based activity. People will liken their interaction with a driverless vehicle to their relationship with their personal devices; just as we expect to catch up on an episode of our favourite television show while we ride the bus, in the future, passengers will want to be entertained—or at least productive—while in transit. This means that autonomous driving will offer another way that individuals can engage with technology.

In place of a driver, vehicles will rely upon virtual assistants, such as Siri, to route and navigate the car. Both Google and Apple have invested heavily in the development of driverless technology, so the cars are likely to have a fully integrated functionality with their products and services. Passengers will be able to access the internet, media or entertainment during their journey. Alternatively, they can be productive and work as they travel between meetings.

Wearable devices will also be connected to our vehicles, so an autonomous car will have access to your vital signs and might, for instance, adjust its speed based on your heart rate. With insight into the mental and physical state of its passengers, this will make the experience of riders more personalised and comfortable.

The driverless car will be connected to the world around it as part of a larger transport network. Cars will communicate with each other and with external infrastructure, including traffic lights and crosswalks. Sophisticated sensors and data connectivity systems will have to work together to assess factors that link the environment inside the car to the outside world. This will require vast amounts of data being received and processed at high speed. This information that’s collected has value too; it can be monetised directly (selling data) and indirectly (improvement of processes and predictive maintenance).

When we look at how an autonomous vehicle will communicate with external infrastructure in particular, this will be vital when it comes to safety; driverless cars will have to react instantly to any obstruction, from a toll booth to a cyclist. It’s imperative that this data is accurate and highly sensitive to environmental factors, such as the weather or change of terrain.

While all of these in-vehicle systems and external sensors are communicating with each other, manufacturers must ensure that vehicles are not prone to any electromagnetic interference (EMI) to guarantee that human lives aren’t put at risk. All of these crucial functions to autonomous driving demand reliable high-speed connectivity beyond what’s available today, however.

In the future, passengers will communicate with their driverless vehicle and autonomous cars will communicate with external infrastructure. Because of the advancements that manufacturers are making in this industry, these conversations between human and machine and machine and environment are not far off—and we’re listening with interest.

To keep up with these changes, car manufacturers are looking for talent with experience in the autonomous technology and automotive space, especially senior leaders and technical experts in the field of advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) and autonomous driving.

If this sounds like you and you’re gearing up for a new challenge, why not get in touch me on Proco is working with some of the most exciting players in this field and would love to chat with you about our current vacancies.

Wired | How connectivity is driving the future of the car
Autonomous Vehicle International | Connectivity

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