Industry Focus: Connected Cars
The integration of the internet into all aspects of our lives has had a profound impact on how we go about our daily activities and is the major driving force behind smart cities of the future. It is leading to safer, more efficient and sustainable new technologies along with upgrades for existing systems. Transportation is a major part of the smart revolution, with autonomous cars grabbing a lot of attention as the future of transportation. While the dream of completely autonomous cars is some way into the future, connected cars are an important step along the path to autonomy with connected cars sharing a lot of technology with their autonomous counterparts.
Connected Cars: a revolution in private transport
This is leading to what many consider the biggest revolution in the car industry in the last 50 years as cars get smarter, independent and more efficient. Accompanying this revolution is a highly active job market with companies hungry for individuals with the right skillset to help them capitalize on this emerging segment.
The connected car market
The market for connected cars has seen a burst in investment as more and more companies realize the importance of these systems for their current product line-ups. Connected car revenues are expected to quadruple to an estimated 113 billion Euro market in 2020 with 82% of cars on the road in 2021 expected to be connected. Driving this market is an increasing demand for connectivity features in cars as customers realize the convenience and safety advantages offered by connected cars. In fact, 32% European customers cite connectivity it as an important criterion when purchasing a new car, while 59% say it influences their decision on the make and model.
What are connected cars?
Connected car refers to any car that has access to the internet via embedded electronics. While cars with smartphone tethering are also considered connected, their range of capabilities is far less expansive as is their potential for revolutionizing the experience of car ownership. Most modern luxury cars are connected to the internet via existing cellular networks, with dedicated networks for cars well on their way to allow cars on the road to communicate with each other.
What is more remarkable is the way companies are pushing this technology to provide innovative services to make car ownership more efficient. A number of startups are modernizing different facets of car ownership using this newfound connectivity:
- Vehicle management
With better connectivity comes a more convenient interface with your car: your smartphone. Dask is a startup that uses hardware and software to give you important information about your trips and driving habits, as well as your car’s maintenance requirements. It uses advanced analytics through cloud connectivity to make car ownership cheaper, safer and more convenient. Remoto offers similar services while also allowing your smartphone to work as your car remote as well as automatic road side assistance and scheduling maintenance procedures.
- Mobility management
Mobility management refers to any and all products designed to add convenience to the experience of getting from point A to point B in your car. Navigation is an essential part of this, with startups like Navmii creating high end navigation applications and maps. Then we have Metromile who use in car connectivity to create a pay-per-mile insurance plan ideal for short city routes.
- Vehicle to Vehicle communications
This is an important aspect of connected cars where cars can communicate with each other as well as roadside infrastructure. Cohda wireless is a major player in this segment, manufacturing hardware and creating software for roadside infrastructure and cars to allow easy communication. This network can then be used to predict and prevent potential accidents, avoid traffic jams and make the roads much safer.
Safety is also a popular product segment for connected cars, with startups like Indiegogo creating on-board assistants that act as a second pair of eyes, coupling with your smartphone to help you make safe lane changes, alert you to potential accidents as well as acting as a dash cam. Navdy takes a different direction with a heads-up display with all the vital information through your smartphone to ensure you keep your eyes on the road while still monitoring your car. Zendrive on the other hand takes a more generalized approach, acting as a platform for potentially life-saving applications by providing vital data about driving habits.
- Fleet management
Managing a company’s car fleet is a complicated job but is easier thanks to connected cars. Companies like Telogis help you track the productivity of your fleet as well as provide vital information to improve vehicle usage. Zonar goes a step ahead providing companies with a tailor-made software and hardware package to track and optimize their fleet usage. Smartdrive provides similar services while also using video analytics to keep track of your driver’s and vehicle’s performance.
If you are interested in a more in-depth analysis of this topic we recommend our feature on fleet management.
- Cyber security
With improved connectivity comes the danger of potential unauthorized access. The scenario of your car getting hacked is quite real but highly preventable thanks to companies like Towersec and Argus Cybersecurity. Both these companies provide advanced security solutions using firewalls, encryption and secure application design processes to help automakers produce highly secure connected cars.
Skillsets and Qualifications
So, what skills and qualifications would enable you to capitalize on this emerging job segment? Connected car systems development and upkeep is a multidisciplinary field requiring professionals from a variety of departments.
Smart sensors, powerful on-board computers and cars packed with electronics means high demand for electronic engineers to create reliable, compact, and energy efficient systems. This is a highly developed field with many universities offering appropriate qualifications:
- Vienna University of Technology, Masters in Embedded Systems
- University of Porto, Masters in Electrical and Computers Engineering
- Politécnica de Madrid, Masters in Industrial Electronics and Automation Engineering
Creating applications and frameworks for connected cars will be an on-going process with high demand for software engineers for frontend and backend programming. This is also a popular field with a wide range of options to gain the necessary skills:
- Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Masters in Software Engineering
- University of Birmingham, Masters in Human Computer Interaction
Artificial Intelligence, Data Analytics and Machine learning
With better connectivity comes a huge amount of data from which to extract important information. This makes skills like data analytics and machine learning invaluable. Artificial intelligence is also an emerging field with lots of applications in connected cars for increased automation.
- University of Surrey, Masters in Computer Vision, Robotics and Machine Learning
- Aalto University, Masters Computer, Communication and Information Sciences – Machine Learning and Data Mining
- University of Amsterdam, Masters in Artificial Intelligence
An integral part of connected cars is the networks supporting their communications. With existing networks being pushed to their capacity with more connected cars sending and receiving a constant stream of data as well as designing new networks for Vehicle to Vehicle and Vehicle to Infrastructure communications, network engineers and designers will be in high demand.
- University of Leeds, Masters in Mobile Computing and Communications Networks
- University of Sheffield, Masters in Wireless Communication Systems
- KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Masters in Smart Electrical Networks and Systems (SENSE)
All in all, connected cars are becoming the new industry standard for private transport. As more consumers become aware of the multitude of benefits offered by connected cars, automakers are responding positively to make connectivity a standard feature for their product line-ups. More importantly, this new field has also opened up a number of opportunities for people with the right skillset to create successful careers in vehicle connectivity and automation. As this emerging field develops and evolves to fully autonomous cars, we can rest assured that demand for capable and skilled individuals will be high in this vehicular revolution.