History is full of revolutionary time-saving examples that improved the
quality of life. In the Post-World War II boom era, domestic chores became
easier as new appliances like washing machines, mixers, vacuum cleaners and
other home-oriented tools opened up a new period of relative leisure for
homemakers. The result was a time dividend for other items on the
family’s to do list. The future will hold such a dividend for both
drivers and passengers of the modern automobile. The Internet of Things
coupled with the re-definition of the car’s role will position this
generation as the next to benefit from a substantial time dividend.
The average driver in the United States spends almost one hour a day in an
automobile commuting to and from work. As urban centers in the U.S. continue
to swell with car driving citizens, and as governments struggle to maintain
the associated infrastructure, commute times are likely to increase. If you
analyze the concentration required to drive and the relative danger a lack of
attention can cause, it is interesting to think about what could be gained if
the car had the ability to drive itself. We often talk about the future of the
self-driving car and the technologies that will get us there. But what about
the extra productivity that we can look forward to when we sit back and enjoy
The economics of Bluetooth technology continue to make it accessible and
effective in hands-free communication. While hands-free has already become a
part of the in-vehicle culture, it will be even more valuable once the driver
no longer has to focus on the road. Both drivers and passengers will have the
ability to conduct work meetings and eventually video conferences with in-car
cameras and high-resolution monitors. Or, rather than bring in a new
monitor, the built-in HUD (Head Up Display) can be used to project video
images onto the windscreen.
In addition to voice and video communications, work will also be accomplished
with enhanced network connectivity. Drivers will be able to use their cars as
both a network hub and as a device for storing documents, and
presentations. Additionally drivers and passengers will be able to
access VPNs and collaborative workspaces. Airplanes and busses are already
implementing Wi-Fi connectivity on their premium transportation routes.
Drivers and passengers can also expect to gain additional benefits in speed
The communication link to a car will include both short range low latency
802.11p, dedicated short range V2V/V2I communication for safety, as well as
WAN based communication system through cellular, satellite or an increasing
Not all in-car benefits have to be in the form of increased work productivity.
As drivers are able to reduce their driving responsibilities they will be able
browse the Web, engage in social media and interact with rich media such as
music and video.
Once the content has reached the car, the in-vehicle communication can be done
using Bluetooth, Wi-Fi or even ultra-wide band. The question is what type of
content is being discussed and the means to get it to the car. If indeed the
combination of cellular, satellite and WAN coverage, get the contents needed
to the car, then a capable infotainment unit is needed to receive the
information, process and then distribute in the car to the other passenger
seats and screens. The services for a central multi-media infotainment unit
could include processing of downloaded media in various formats, voice
activated texting or email, augmented maps, with augmented reality, using GPS,
news and sports updates, eBooks (for the backseat screens) and music, etc.
Once the data is available, it can be distributed to the other passenger seats
(screens in the back seats and/or wireless headphones for audio related
The use of cellular and satellite communications within the cars for telemetry
and other applications are already familiar to many. Examples of these
technologies are already in use in high-end cars such as Lexus, or in services
such as On-Star. There are also new services being introduced by various
operators to address in-vehicle communications and entertainment systems that
vendors hope automakers will adopt to attract more connected consumers. Sprint
is an example of such a service provider. They currently have services that
allow drivers to connect their mobile phones to their vehicles through
Bluetooth, providing access to a range of infotainment related applications.
Of course once the car is connected to the cloud, a variety of IoT related
command and control services can also be provided.
It is projected that the automotive industry will become the second largest
generator of data on the IoT – and you can easily imagine services like
(a) over the air software updates and purchase of password enabled vehicle
options , (b) preventative maintenance of the vehicle, with the OEM monitoring
indicative sensor parameters, to minimize time spent off the road and (c)
regulatory services, so that you pay for the vehicle (insurance, tax etc)
depending on your hours and style of driving.
Data from NHTSA suggests that Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) have
the possibility of reducing the number of accidents by 80%. While radar, LIDAR
and vision processing are becoming common place, the missing piece is the
longer range V2V/V2I communications. The extra information that V2V/V2I
provides will make a huge difference to the effectiveness of ADAS, e.g.
providing the ability to essentially “see” invisible dangers,
round corners or behind other vehicles and to receive early warning of traffic
obstructions and hazards ahead. Self-driving is a combination of two functions
– firstly making sure the vehicle cannot crash, then the vehicle can
find its way from A to B. V2V/V2I communications is essential for both
parts of the challenge.
These are a few of the ways drivers and passengers will benefit from a fully
connected self-driving car. As we delegate driving responsibilities we
will be able to engage in enhanced work and entertainment experiences. But
perhaps the best benefit the autonomous driving dividend will be the ability
to swivel the driver’s seat to engage with the passengers in a more