Digital car adoption accelerates

How digital technologies are reshaping the way vehicles monitor and communicate

Driven by technology
The automotive market is one of the fastest Internet of Things (IoT) adopters. Through the use of sensors and software, the industry has been increasingly able to interface with other technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), cloud computing and robotics.

By doing so, it has benefitted from reduced manufacturing and logistics costs, improved driver and road safety, and enhanced smart vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communications.

But perhaps the most impactful of all IoT applications is the connected car. A connected car is essentially a vehicle equipped with intelligent systems and services linked to the internet. Typically, this connectivity is established through mobile data networks that support a diverse range of services accessible remotely via smartphones or similar devices.

The adoption of connected cars is growing fast. According to GlobalData, the global connected car market was valued at $32bn in 2016 and is expected to reach nearly $100bn by 2030.

Connected cars use various communication technologies, including cellular networks, V2I and vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V). These enable features such as cloud-based services, interaction with other vehicles, and access to roadside infrastructure for improved traffic flow and safety.
V2I connectivity and road safety are IoT applications that allow original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to differentiate themselves from competitors. They facilitate two-way communication between connected vehicles and various infrastructure components, including traffic lights, signs and parking meters.

These technologies enable cars to locate available parking spaces swiftly, alert drivers when traffic lights are about to change, or redirect drivers due to road construction.

Additionally, V2I contributes to efficient traffic management by allowing vehicles to transmit their precise location within a city to a central management hub. This hub can then optimise traffic flow by redirecting vehicles along alternative routes as needed.
The reduced latency from 5G connectivity also enables seamless V2V communication and real-time interaction between vehicles and smart infrastructure. This connectivity is important for advancing smart cities and encouraging road safety.

Another accident prevention feature is advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), which employ sensors and software to detect and prevent potential hazards, aiding drivers in avoiding accidents.

ADAS functionalities such as automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning and blind spot monitoring mitigate accident risks by autonomously applying brakes, alerting drivers of lane drift and warning of vehicles in blind spots.

Industry outlook

Connected car technologies could even eventually become an extension of consumers’ automated homes.
The increased use of smart home appliances, such as Wi-Fi-connected heating and lighting systems, has led to a deeper, though low-volume, integration with connected vehicles.

Brands such as Volvo and BMW have integrated ‘Homelink’ garage technology, where the garage door responds automatically to an approaching vehicle. As the number of IoT-connected smart devices grows, car makers will seek to integrate functionality further.
Similarly, maintaining consumer interest in modern car designs means incorporating advanced human interfaces such as AI-powered virtual assistants.

The emerging world of connected and increasingly autonomous vehicles will require large numbers of sensors, including cameras, light detectors and radars. These sensors will feed live data to both onboard computers within the vehicle and cloud-based remote data centres.
Today, connected car models are designed with in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) and vehicle telematics systems. Telematics revenues are influenced by the number of vehicles in use, while infotainment revenues correlate with the value of installed equipment in vehicle sales.
Unsurprisingly, this is big business. GlobalData projects that between 2020 and 2030, revenue from the connected car market will increase by a compound annual growth rate of 9.7%.

Moreover, the global IVI market, which includes non-visible drive-by-wire technologies, centre displays, steering wheel controls and voice recognition, will be worth nearly $50bn by 2030.

Several leading manufacturers offer vehicles equipped with technologies designed to elevate the customer experience.
Ford’s ADAS system, BlueCruise, uses an infrared camera that tracks head and eye movements to check whether the driver is looking at the road. If the driver glances away for more than five seconds, the system gives a visual and audible warning. If the driver’s eyes do not turn back to the road, the system slows the car and contacts emergency services.

Several OEMs also use driver monitoring technologies to check driver health and safety. One such technology launched by a Swedish AI company, Smart Eye, analyses physiological signals by detecting subtle changes to the driver’s heart rate, breathing and eye movement and communicates them back to the vehicle.

Smart Eye’s technology is already used by automakers including BMW, Jaguar, Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz, Audi and Volvo.
Technology can also benefit the manufacturer. In March 2023, Ford applied for a patent on a system that will use connected car technology to help with vehicle repossession when a driver fails to complete their car payments.

The system could be programmed to send messages to the owner’s smartphone, lock drivers out of their cars, disable functions such as air conditioning, geofence vehicles to only operate within a certain time or area, and enable an autonomous car to drive itself to an impound lot.


As technology progresses, it brings its own set of challenges to overcome.
The popularity of connected car technologies has significantly increased the volume of sensitive data that automakers and suppliers hold on customers.

Automakers are at risk of data breaches, vehicle takeovers and spyware installations in connected vehicles. For example, hackers could compromise autonomous functionality to cause a crash.

This has led manufacturers to recognise the need for better cybersecurity practices, although many continue to suffer from data breaches and vehicle hacking. Last year, Toyota revealed that vehicle data from over two million users had been publicly available for over a decade due to human error.

Telematics, where telecommunications, wireless communications, computer science, vehicle electronics and road transport converge, presents one of the greatest vulnerabilities and is most likely to be targeted by cybercriminals.

To address these growing concerns, tech giants such as Microsoft and IBM already offer solutions to tackle cybersecurity fears in the automotive industry.

As automakers increasingly rely on over-the-air updates to add or upgrade vehicle features remotely, cybersecurity efforts will need to ensure these methods are insulated from all threats.

20 May, 2024 | .By MRUDVI BAKSHI