There’s plenty of buzz around the connected car these days. The reason? The cloud.
There is a common refrain heard from nearly everyone gathered in Detroit to attend the World Congress on Intelligent Transport Systems this week: Connected cars will be the ultimate Internet of Things. They will collect and make sense of massive amounts of data from a huge array of sources. Cars will talk to other cars, exchanging data and alerting drivers to potential collisions. They’ll talk to sensors on signs on stoplights, bus stops, even ones embedded in the roads to get traffic updates and rerouting alerts. And they’ll communicate with your house, office, and smart devices, acting as an digital assistant, gathering information you need to go about your day.
To do all that, they need the cloud. Because connected cars need data. Lots of data. Automobiles today are already packed with an impressive amount of processing power, because some 100 million lines of software code help run the typical luxury vehicle. But as connected cars before were sophisticated rolling wired devices, the amount of information flowing back and forth from them will skyrocket. And so they will demand for the cloud’s scalability and storage capabilities.
The cloud also provides sophisticated processing and analytical capabilities. The cloud is the central hub where all of this quickly changing, far-flung information will pass through. It will provide the platform for making sense of this data. And the cloud is also the home for building and developing the apps and programs used by cars on the road.
What does that add up to practically? A car linked to the cloud, tapping into your apps, devices, and preferences will tailor the driving experience to you. When you’re getting ready to go out in the morning, your car will link to the cloud and check the weather, your to-do list from your calendar, and the traffic to help you plan your route for the day, rerouting you when you’re on your way if you get behind schedule or run into traffic. Or a rental car would recognize you when you slip into the driver’s seat and automatically adjusts to your preferences — changing the mirrors, giving you an update from your calendar of your schedule, and lining up your iTunes playlist.
Connected cars, meantime, will help cities and states cut down on congestion and improve safety. On the road, cars will talk to each other, automatically transmitting data such as speed, position, and direction, and send alerts to each other if a crash seems imminent. This future of vehicle-to-vehicle, or V2V communication, is already in the works, with the U.S. Department of Transportation announcing early this year that it plans to start taking steps to enable V2V communication.
At the same time, communities are mapping out ways to put connected cars at the center of more energy efficient, smarter traffic management systems. IBM conducted a smarter traffic pilot with the Dutch city of Eindhoven, demonstrating how the connected car automatically shares braking, acceleration and location data that can be analyzed by the central traffic authority to identify and resolve road network issues.
We’ve just started to see what the connected car could become. What’s clear, though, is that the auto industry is in for massive change. And that the cloud is one of the main technological forces driving this transformation.
Dirk Wollschlaeger is General Manager of IBM’s Global Automotive Industry.
To learn more, visit ibm.com/cloud or join the conversation at #ibmcloud.
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