Apple’s recent announcement of CarPlay means that another big-name software and services provider is looking to make inroads on the open road. Microsoft has partnered with Ford and other manufacturers on “Sync,” a system that connects a smart phone via bluetooth to the vehicle’s audio system. The Tesla Model S, winner of many 2013 “Car of the Year Awards,” features a staggering nineteen inch touchscreen in the dashboard that controls everything from navigation to the air conditioner. One thing is clear: the digitalization of the automobile is finally upon us. But what does the future really hold for increasingly connected automobiles, and what does it mean for the modern enterprise?

Tesla Model S interior

The cabin of Tesla’s Model S includes a 19 inch touchscreen.
Image courtesy of The President Wears Prada

Modern Utility

While it might feel like the integration of digital technology in cars is reaching fever pitch, these developments have been a long time coming. If not for the hard work of engineers and scientists on mechanical and digital innovations in the automotive industry, it’s arguable that cars might still have a top speed limit of five miles per hour and require a hand crank to start! Traction-control systems, cruise control, and other similar developments in automobiles have proven that implementations of digital connectivity in automobiles can improve not just the cars themselves, but also the world around them.

Better fuel economy, for example, is good for the car operator and the environment. Rearview cameras that are displayed on an in-dash monitor or touch screen greatly reduce the chance of an accident when backing up. Weather data integrated with navigation systems can warn drivers of adverse driving conditions on the horizon. Third party applications are available through the electronics of many automobiles that, for example, provide hotel recommendations and music services. Social media and email can be opened and read through the car’s audio system to keep the driver available for communication even if they are behind the wheel, while still keeping their eyes on the road.

What does the future hold?

The economic benefits, efficiencies, and safety improvements available via near-total or total automation of self driving cars are too large to be ignored forever; almost every mode of transportation outside of cars, trucks and motorcycles has minimized or eliminated the need for human interaction with the control system. At the moment, applications and software that enhance the occupant’s interaction with the car are the rulers of the day. But tomorrow?  Tomorrow will be about the connection between the automobile and the world around it. While details are still being worked out, most self-driving automobiles will combine systems of spatial awareness (radar and cameras on the vehicle itself) with GPS connectivity to produce a safe and efficient driving system. From navigation to mass-management of traffic patterns, the next major breakthrough in automotive electronics will relate to the connections between cars and roads, not the connections between drivers and their automobiles. Networks will be taxed to continuously feed real time mapping data and traffic data to complement the data gathered by cameras and radar.

As a result, the modern enterprise will play a pivotal role in the development of these technologies…and in their acceptance by the general public. While companies like Apple and Tesla may appear most frequently in news headlines, the connective infrastructure around the world must rapidly evolve to meet the always-on demands of the modern age. The massive increase in total connected devices will require an even more robust telecommunications backbone with not only adequate bandwidth, but also multiple redundancies to keep all drivers and occupants safe as they journey between destinations. Once upon a time, scientists theorized that the data would be transmitted via hardline in the streets. Now, it appears that automated transportation will rely on broadband and satellite connections to send and receive data crucial to the experience. Companies like AT&T, Verizon, and Mosaic NetworX will be called on to build out the infrastructure and power the connections between automobiles and software providers.

Careful consideration of how technology impacts the world outside the cabin is every bit as important as consideration of the driver’s comfort and convenience inside of it. The technical infrastructure required for connected vehicles isn’t just about the cars themselves; the network outside of the vehicles and off the roads themselves will be integral to a truly connected vehicular experience. The resources required to connect so many automobiles, all moving in different directions at different speeds, is truly awe-inspiring. To learn more about Mosaic NetworX’s role in an increasingly connected future, contact us today.