What is a ‘Connected Vehicle’?
The “connected car” is a reality – even if today most applications of this technology can be found in conventional entertainment and voice communications. It’s a rapidly growing area and considerable further development and exploitation of its potential is likely in the immediate future.
Today, searching for car parts for all makes and models often means looking at electronics as much as mechanics. That’s because an increasing number of cars are ‘connected’. While that might mean slightly different things to different people, it essentially relates to the growing numbers of cars that have in-built Internet connectivity of one form or another. In a sense, there’s nothing much new in this – at least in principle. As far back as 70 years ago, wealthy individuals and official bodies (such as the police) already had cars equipped with radio telephones – or, as they might have called it, ‘Wireless’ – in order to communicate with the outside world. Technology advances over the past 5-10 years have led to an explosion in the development of in-car wireless and related technologies to improve the so-called ‘holistic driving experience’.
A growing number of car and accessory systems producers are today using the term ‘Infotainment’ to describe the coming together of various connectivity technologies in the modern motor vehicle. The ‘tainment’ part of this is self-explanatory and relates to a wide variety of gadgetry that can, for example, deliver music and news directly to the driver and passengers using smart systems of a type that will be familiar to many from the use of mobile phones. It also allows passengers (though not of course the driver) to watch online movies, TV or to engage in email/social media exchanges. The ‘info’ part of the term isn’t just news, though; smart systems allow the driver to be kept fully and immediately informed of relevant local issues based upon their geographic position – traffic jams and alternative route recommendations are just two examples. This technology can put the driver at the centre of a powerful Infotainment universe inside the car, which is why people looking for car parts for all makes and models are likely to see an increasingly large selection of connectivity gadgetry on the shelves too.
Diagnostic and control management
Having a connected vehicle isn’t just about entertainment and information, though; it also enables manufacturers and safety experts to conduct online monitoring of your vehicle’s performance. For example, your fuel consumption figures versus your mileage can be monitored and checked against an ever-growing online repository of facts and figures from other similar vehicles. Your car can then be alerted as to any potential problems or you could get a message advising you that something needs to be checked. It’s also possible for diagnostic information to be transmitted from your vehicle when a fault arises and help sought from online expert assistance. In fact, problems could arise, be diagnosed and remedies applied without you even being aware anything has happened! It’s only a short extension from this sort of activity into automatic control and management of your vehicle; i.e. “driverless driving”. That, though, is at best controversial and arguably still decades away. It’s an aspect of “connected vehicles” that present-day manufacturers might be unlikely to openly discuss but it’s a subject that’s on the horizon and this sort of technology may well play a crucial role in making it a reality.
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