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Connected cars are the future and there's no way to stop the automobile industry from heading towards this inevitable high-tech lifestyle. Several car manufacturers have already launched high-tech connectivity options in their cars and almost all other brands are certainly taking the same road.
A decade ago, the only electronics that could be found in most commonly-found cars were related to vehicular functions, and then of course in the infotainment systems. Over time though, things have changed and most common cars today feature more connectivity integrated into the infotainment system.
Step into higher segments of the automobile industry and you would now find that vehicles are linked with the satellite and are capable of communicating on their own in case of an emergency. Cars are connected to call centres and the like and this technology is now slowly filtering down to entry-level cars as well.
An electric vehicle invasion is inevitable in the upcoming years. The Global auto market is expected to be flooded with electric vehicles from every single existing auto manufacturer in addition to the flood of new EV startups. These electric vehicles are high-tech machines and are expected to carry more connected technology than their petrol/diesel-powered counterparts.
This is a phenomenon that is already visible in the Indian market. Even though India is a market that recently started off with its electrification process, the number of new EVs with connected features like over-the-air updates is just mind-blowing. All premium electric scooters in India claim to have this feature.
Several manufacturers are working on tech that will allow their cars to communicate with each other to relay vital information regarding traffic scenarios, and even in case of an accident. In addition to these, there are autonomous vehicles. It is now hard to keep a count of the number of brands working on autonomous tech.
When one looks at the automobile industry at large in the present scenario and also in the near and distant future, it is quite obvious that connected technology is going to rule our roads. While everyone does talk about connected technology, there is very less banter about the kind of internet network that will be required to support this sea change.
In order to know more about the back-end internet support required for the connected technology, and how internet providers will handle this, we spoke to Mr Sudhir Kunder, Director for DE-CIX India. DE-CIX is one of the largest internet exchanges in the world. Its internet exchange point (IXP) situated in Frankfurt, Germany is the largest single exchange point in the world.
Connected cars are now becoming commonplace. Now, what is Interconnectivity?
Interconnectivity by definition is the linking of multiple entities, physical and digital to facilitate some form of communication. The same is true for connected cars, whether it be vehicle to vehicle, vehicle to the cloud, or Internally connecting vehicle systems to communicate seamlessly.
This could be for traffic to prevent accidents, to calculate the ETA for the user destination, letting your air conditioning or heating system startup 5 mins before you arrive home, or simply informing you about an unlocked door. Interconnectivity is the mechanism to release users from making complex decisions involving multiple parameters that the human mind would miss.
What difference will interconnected cars make in the Indian scenario?
Connected cars are already making a lot of difference and will continue to do so with the coming advancements. Most Internet-enabled cars in India depend on Google's Android or Apple IOS to provide internet-related functionality. The dependence on third-party services breeds uncertainty and more than often latency and inconvenience for the end-user.
We are fascinated by the health analysis of a smartwatch, imagine the analysis a car seat could give with significantly more touchpoints to the human body. We are fascinated by the tracking feature for a stolen car, which, people in India mostly install as an addon. Every car deserves to have this feature. A connected car will make all the difference and more.
DE-CIX is an Internet Exchange. How does this help a connected car?
To understand this we need to understand the data flow within a car. 70% of the data is not actual. What this means is that this data will not cause a significant impact on user experience. Most of this is the data flowing into the car. However, the remaining 30% can be categorized into three crucial segments. 20% is the car to cloud communication, 5% is the car to car communication and the remaining 5% is the car to environment communication.
Car-to-environment communication is the car sensors communicating with surrounding entities whether it be other sensors on streets, crossroads, or signals, or just detecting another vehicle getting too close beyond safe distance. This 30% of data is real-time and crucial for essential functionalities. This data requires the best connectivity between the source of the application and the car itself.
An Internet Exchange is crucial here as an Internet Exchange facilitates the lowest latency possible, by providing a direct connection between the outbound network i.e the network delivering the traffic itself to the user which in this case would be the car, eliminating the dependency on other entities. Imagine the repercussions of this crucial data having to travel even one extra node when it comes to something like traffic control or a managing director on a team call, or a trader trying to make a crucial transaction while stuck in traffic. It is only an Internet Exchange like DE-CIX that can alleviate these contingencies.
Is it possible to turn all cars in India into connected vehicles? If yes, what are the challenges?
There are many makeshift customizations already available in the market so yes any car can be loaded with the desired feature. However, from a cost and performance perspective, it is in the best interest of manufacturers and consumers to seek integrated connected cars or Internet cars. It not only assures better quality but also costs less in the long run as it eliminated problems of compatibility and tech support.
Moreover, it is in the interest of car manufacturers to provide customers with everything under one hood. The CEO of Mercedes-Benz says I do not want to hear "Hello Siri" in a Mercedes-Benz car, I want to hear "Hello Mercedes." This shows how important it is for them to own the Integration of the connected car. So, yes it is possible but not advisable.
Could connected cars be an issue with respect to privacy and security? If not, how?
These two words give the biggest companies jitters. It is a very real problem and has more than one form. First of all, the driver Identity could be stolen, with self-driving cars terror activities are a concern, and of course, the conventional threats are always there.
However, with the benefits of direct connection here, a DE-CIX-like Internet Exchange is already reducing the risk of data travelling into unwanted territories. By reducing the number of nodes we have already reduced the chances of unwanted entities coming in contact with this data. Moreover, DE-CIX gives companies the option to create closed networks only for trusted entities that are furthermore secure.
How soon do you see connected and interconnected cars becoming commonplace?
Connected cars are already common, And they will only get more interesting with time.
Thoughts On Connected Cars & The Internet Connectivity Needed To Keep Them Going
Manufacturers are going all out on the development of connected cars and all technology related to it. At the same time, the internet speeds and connectivity required for it also need to advance in order to support the increase in connected vehicles. As stated here, internet exchanges are the way to go forward.