Connected and autonomous cars: Driving in the cloud

Driving in the cloud

Jonathan Wilkins, marketing director of obsolete components supplier, EU Automation explains how cloud computing can help both manufacturers and owners make the most of their vehicle

Today, we consider wireless connectivity and parking assist to be standard features in new models of car.

However, roll back 50 years and it was a different story; there was much less technology of any kind in most vehicles.

The three-point seatbelt didn’t become standard until 1970 and airbags weren’t mandatory until 1998. With cloud computing on the rise, we’re seeing more high-tech features being added to vehicles than ever.

Cloud computing plays a pivotal role in helping original equipment manufacturers manage and control the data and connectivity needed to run a system of remote downloads and upgrades across all the cars they sell. 

The embedded systems that control the engine, climate control, mobile communication, entertainment systems, diagnostics, locking and security all enhance the usability of a vehicle.

All of these systems are software-based and need the same type of support as an IT infrastructure would in a commercial environment.

They also need to adhere to the same development and testing standards, require updates and patches and come with security and privacy issues.

Safety and security

A car’s IT system is critical to the safe running of the vehicle. If car thieves or someone with malicious intentions hacked into the system it could have serious consequences for the driver and passengers.

To reduce the risk of vehicle hacking, manufacturers and owners need to find the right balance between new features and security.

While demand is increasing for more connected entertainment and information systems, this does increase the possibility of a vehicle being hacked.

Manufacturers should also assume that a hacker might want to attack any and every access point and build a system or feature to protect them.

Diagnostics

There are hundreds of automotive apps that transform your mobile phone into a device that can help diagnose problems with your vehicle but automotive technicians generally use expensive test equipment in the service and repair industry instead.

This equipment can be very bulky and difficult to store in a car when used by mobile mechanics.

With the rise of cloud computing and smart technology, technicians can now use smartphones to do basic testing anywhere, at any time.

Some automotive apps also allow the driver to receive trouble codes and parameter data for assistance in diagnosing vehicle problems.

Furthermore, a mechanic may soon be able to service and repair your car remotely, just like your IT consultant does with your computer.

As cars become more digitally connected, the need to visit a garage for servicing and repairs will be replaced by digitally downloading software and apps to the car’s onboard system.

Over time, cars could even become self-diagnosing, with onboard software finding problems through remote links, without the driver necessarily being aware it is happening.

The power of autonomy

Technology is transforming vehicles into aware, actively engaged partners in the driving process.

While autonomous vehicles are on the rise, automotive manufacturers are already introducing driver-assist technologies into the safety systems of some models to monitor driver attentiveness, lane control and potential collisions.

If technological advancements continue, cars could soon be relaying information about road conditions to vehicles behind them.

In 10 years’ time, it’s likely that cars will be even more high-tech. When investing in technologies that improve the driving experience, just remember the risks involved and take the necessary measures to prevent them.

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