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06.05.2015

Connected cars: the future of the automotive industry

Image | ACEAeu

For a little over a century now cars have been the vehicles most widely used by people practically everywhere on Earth. Is there anyone left who has not ridden in a car? Innovating in the automotive world is not very difficult: due to their use and adaptive capacity, there are cars for all types of people and preferences. Large and small, cheap and expensive, automatic and manual… the possibilities are endless.

To check out the latest automotive developments and the industry’s status, first-hand, there is nothing like visiting the International Motor Show, which marks its 38th edition from 9-17 May 2015 at the Fira Barcelona venues on Montjuïc. The event has evolved in parallel with the product, and features four thematic areas this year: Brands, Connected car, Urban mobility and Sketch car design, that is, the introduction of the new features from the major makes, new mobile technologies applied to the industry, vehicles and smart cities, and the presentation of the best designs. There is no doubt that in a hyperconnected society mobile technologies are bound to play an increasingly important role in the automotive industry, a fact reflected by the programme of the Motor Show’s 38th edition.

In 2015 the event dedicated to the auto industry will drow 37 brands, while spotlighting technological innovation. The Internet of Things will have its niche at the show, in the Connected car section, a thematic area designed to offer users solutions to improve their driving experiences, with the utmost in safety. Leading brands and technology leaders will converge in this area to present their new projects, while the space will also benefit from collaboration with the Mobile World Capital Barcelona Foundation.

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Image | Salón Internacional del Automóvil 2013

Oscar Pallarols, director of MWCB’s Smart Living program, stated that “the connected car is already a reality, but it’s not advanced enough. The cars that are being designed today already have this profile, on which work has been in progress for a long time.” What citizens probably are familiar with are cars with Internet connections, able to offer vehicle users content via streaming. But the connected car options that one may experience at the Motor Show go far beyond this.

The car models soon to be placed on the market will incorporate two types of technology: C2C or “car to car,” which will allow two cars to communicate with each other in order to, for example, prevent collisions; and C2I, “car to infrastructure,” which, by means of elements on the road network or in smart cities, will offer drivers relevant information on their surroundings, in real time. “The car will be able to anticipate whether there is someone crossing the road at a distance of up to 300 metres, warn the driver if there is an ambulance that needs to pass, or inform him of the need to slow down in the event of an accident on a motorway or road,” explains Pallarols. And that’s not all: they will also be able to program the most efficient routes to prevent traffic jams, indicate what vehicle has the right of way at an intersection, and provide information on petrol prices while the car is en route …  Connected cars for connected drivers.

Another one of the key characteristics of connected cars is the way in which they provide information: to minimise distractions while driving, the industry is working to incorporate voice control and head up displays as standard features; by means of virtual reality, they will project all the information pertinent to the driver on the windscreen.

To make the implementation of this technology a reality, infrastructure companies and public entities must all row in the same direction, establishing synergies and undertaking collaborative efforts, an example being the European Commission’s eCall project, which as of 31 March 2018 will require private vehicles to be equipped with a device connected to emergency services: it is estimated that if vehicles are able to automatically dial 112, almost 2,500 lives can be saved each year.

BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi are some of the companies that are implementing this type of technology in their vehicles, and even though technological innovation is commonly associated with high-end makes, all carmakers today have their own plans on the drawing board.

When will the connected car truly make a splash? More clues to come at the International Motor Show.