For a long time I have strongly believed that the Internet of Things (IoT) will completely change how auto brands interact with their customers. However, I am always disappointed when reading the business journals because the most common IoT application people mention is the intelligent fridge. I think I can tell when the milk is running low without the need for any smart technology and it is the futility of this common example that often gives IoT a bad name.
But think about how IoT can work with cars. Your car is already smart and packed full of electronic systems. Most new cars have a computer-controlled diagnostic system. They measure and store an enormous amount of information, but previously this would only be available to engineers at the service centre.
Imagine if your car could also connect to your home wifi when parked in the garage or on your drive. Now the car can start using that diagnostic data, asking the manufacturer for advice on different readings and potentially fixing problems before they even happen. The car is effectively making contact to a customer service centre automatically and working to ensure the car is in perfect condition, even though the customer knows nothing about what it is doing. The customer only gets an alert when the car knows that intervention by an engineer is necessary.
Self-diagnostic systems are perhaps the most obvious application for IoT in cars, but many manufacturers have already gone far beyond this initial idea. BMW has partnered with Parkmobile to create an IoT-powered system that helps cars find and pay for parking places. This can be especially important in cities the driver doesn’t know. We all know how long it can take to locate parking in an unfamiliar city. The Ford strategy for the next decade positions the American giant as a future technology platform – just one part of bigger smart cities that will interact through telematics and other automated data systems. When Ford replaced their CEO in 2017 the new leader came from the team designing this future strategy – he came from the IoT team.
Volvo has IoT projects focused on car to car communication and passenger safety. Their Concept 26 autonomous car project is entirely driven by IoT and data analysis. The Renault Symbioz concept also demonstrates how IoT concepts contribute to the ability to build a completely autonomous vehicle. Toyota uses IoT sensors inside their production facilities so every machine in their factories is maintained correctly. Any faults can be diagnosed far more quickly with their connected factory model, helping to keep production running smoothly.
It’s a shame that more business journals don’t use the auto industry as an example of how important the IoT really is. From production, to self-diagnosis, to the creation of a data-rich environment that can support autonomous driving, there are many different areas of IoT use already taking place in the auto industry and it is likely that a decade from now, some of these car companies will look more like the technology companies we see today – rather than merely vehicle manufacturers.
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Photo: David Cohen via Unsplash