Computing Community Consortium Blog

The goal of the Computing Community Consortium (CCC) is to catalyze the computing research community to debate longer range, more audacious research challenges; to build consensus around research visions; to evolve the most promising visions toward clearly defined initiatives; and to work with the funding organizations to move challenges and visions toward funding initiatives. The purpose of this blog is to provide a more immediate, online mechanism for dissemination of visioning concepts and community discussion/debate about them.

“Your Connected Vehicle is Arriving”

January 5th, 2012 / in research horizons / by Erwin Gianchandani

There’s a great piece in MIT’s Technology Review this week — written by Thilo Koslowski, Vice President and head of the Automotive, Vehicle ICT & Mobility Practice at Gartner — describing how cars are becoming networked, to the Internet and to one another, and how this new trend will redefine transportation as a whole in the next decade.

Some excerpts:

Your Connected Vehicle Is Arriving [image courtesy MIT's Technology Review].The automotive and transportation industries are entering a phase of the most significant innovation since the popularization of personal automobiles a hundred years ago. Similar to the way telephones have evolved into smart phones, over the next 10 years automobiles will rapidly become “connected vehicles” that access, consume, and create information and share it with drivers, passengers, public infrastructure, and machines including other cars. We can already predict benefits such as reduced accident rates, improved productivity, lowered emissions, and on-demand entertainment for passengers. The rise of connected cars will lead to widespread changes affecting many kinds of businesses, not to mention governments and communities. As just one example, we are seeing collaborations between automakers and life-science companies to develop in-vehicle health-monitoring sensors that can transmit data about the driver’s health in case of an emergency…


The fact is, automakers now compete for customer dollars not only against each other but also against iPhones and iPads, especially among younger consumers. Data collected by us illustrates the trend. In one survey, participants were asked to choose between Internet access and owning an automobile. Among U.S. 18-to-24-year-old drivers, 46 percent said they would probably select the Internet and give up their car. Among 45-to-64-year-old drivers, only 15 percent said they would be likely give up their car for Internet access.


This means that mechanical excellence won’t be enough for automakers to impress future customers. The automotive industry must capture consumers’ interest in digital lifestyle offerings and adapt the relevant technologies to the car. Although most car companies have innovative efforts under way, quite a few of these will misfire as the companies attempt to simply imitate what consumers already do on smart phones — for instance, having the car read you Facebook updates while you drive. Instead, successful adaptions of mobile technology will enhance the experience of owning a vehicle. For example, future cars could monitor the driver’s cognitive and emotional state and assess what information, and how much of it, the driver can consume at a given time. Noncritical phone calls could be routed straight to voice mail when the car is on the highway in heavy traffic, and text messages could be read out loud when it is idling at a stop light…


One technology stands out in addressing these challenges: the self-driving vehicle. Over the next 10 years, continued evolution in sensors, computing power, machine learning, and big-data analytics will bring us closer to the goals of zero accidents and real-time traffic management. Cars that are aware of their own location and the location of other vehicles will “self organize”: they will talk to one another and to the infrastructure in order to optimize traffic flow, minimize congestion, reduce pollution, and increase general mobility. Imagine a future in which even a 90-year-old person can remain mobile over long distances in a car that drives itself. That may mean more visits from the grandparents — and it might also mean that the car could drive them straight to a hospital in a medical emergency. The autonomous vehicle would also eliminate the dangers of distracted driving and make possible more fuel-efficient driving — for example, if the cars traveled in a platoon that minimizes wind resistance. Self-driving cars are certain to bring up profound legal questions: Will a 10-year-old child be permitted to “drive”? What about someone who has had a few drinks? Who would be legally at fault in case of an accident involving two autonomous vehicles?…


The next two decades will be an incredibly creative period. The automotive industry and the vehicles we drive will change more than they have in the last century. Automobile companies must take advantage of these changes, define new values and products, and shape a new ecosystem of partnerships with technology companies. As cars move from being basic transportation to becoming intelligent systems, I am hopeful that they will continue to evoke the passions of enthusiasts like me.

Check out the entire article here. And share your thoughts below.

(Contributed by Erwin Gianchandani, CCC Director)

“Your Connected Vehicle is Arriving”

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