Connected cars and collaborative driving with the goal of increasing road safety and energy sustainability were recurring themes at CES 2020. Jim Pattison Lease was able to attend the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas to get a glimpse of cutting-edge technologies focused on bringing energy-conscious, self-driving autonomous cars to the road.
What is the Connected Car?
A house from the 50s or 60s can be easily retrofitted with growing and emerging technologies– such as smart fridges, USB outlets, smart LED bulbs, even wifi – all technologies that were not available at the time of the original manufacturer. However, the personal vehicle has been traditionally marketed and sold as a final product. For example, it is immensely difficult to upgrade a center console of a car to have Apple Carplay & Android Auto if the automaker didn’t include that as a factory feature. It is also difficult for a user to even upgrade the maps of a navigation-enabled car unless the car is brought to a dealer for a fee. This model creates the marketable need for consumers to upgrade a car sooner to get access to newer onboard technology, without the car’s mechanical limits having been reached. In the aforementioned example of the home, consumers do not need to purchase a brand new home to upgrade to new tech, and automakers are finally beginning to shift from making final products into updateable, connected cars.
There are many integrated solutions of the connected car that are emerging, such as the ability to allow automakers to deploy and scale global vehicle services like fleet management, OEM telematics, over-the-air software updates, and connected safety services. The shift to this open model will provide flexibility in incorporating future updates that will calm consumers’ anxiety when it comes to choosing a “future-proof” vehicle.
Increased Availability & Accessibility of ADAS
Over the past decade, car manufacturers have developed, tested, and improved existing ADAS technology (advanced driver assistance systems), which include (but are not limited to) radar cruise control, blind-spot detection, and lane-keeping assistance. The new car industry has seen more and more ADAS features being included as standard features or less-costly options on vehicles coming out of the original factory, but there are many third-party aftermarket products available today, as demonstrated at CES, that are easy to retrofit on any vehicle via mounted cameras and an onboard computer. Safety is becoming a high priority for consumers and fleets alike, and there are many options today to arm almost any vehicle with ADAS functionality.
The Important Role of Artificial Intelligence in Road Safety
The learning ability of AI (artificial intelligence) has shown to be extremely successful in improving road safety. Smart dash cams, equipped with onboard computing capabilities, have the ability to read speed signs, detect pedestrians/cyclists/pets and potential driving hazards like tailgating that OEM equipment cannot. These AI algorithms read the camera feed in real-time and produce an actionable response, often by visual and/or audible alerts, so that the driver gets a warning to immediately take action before an accident occurs. Case studies show that up to 80% of collisions can be prevented by using AI to assist the driver in detecting a potential accident that would otherwise take longer for a human to detect. Furthermore, all the triggered driving alerts and safety violations (such as speeding, harsh driving, dozing off, distracted driver, phone use, etc.) can be uploaded and collected so that fleet managers have prioritized visibility into which drivers need coaching.
Breaking the Barriers to Autonomous Vehicles
As ADAS systems become more and more commonplace, AI systems will be able to gather a wealth of data to help improve autonomous driving. However, there are still a number of hoops to jump through before self-driving cars rule the road.
Firstly, different levels of governmental jurisdiction have varying laws on self-driving cars: a municipality may authorize certain vehicles, such as public busses that don’t exceed a certain surface-road limit, to operate only within their city limits, but another province or state may only allow certain vehicles to self-drive on open highways. Therefore, a lot of collaboration between different levels of government will need to agree on a set of rules for common roads.
Secondly, with self-driving technologies being rarely seen on the road today and very few years of deployment, the public generally fears the unknown and has a hard time buying into low-penetration technology, despite it being a well-known concept. The public needs to experience self-driving vehicles for themselves in order to begin to trust the technology.
Thirdly, current driverless car systems can successfully handle 90-95% of all scenarios; however, the remaining 5% of potentially deadly situations is proving to be challenging. AI is being leveraged heavily for driverless systems, but some further development is needed for scenarios that still require human judgment.
Lastly, the most weighted influencer of consumer decisions is cost. As the barriers described above slowly break down, the cost of owning a driverless vehicle (or even better, ride-hailing one) will become much cheaper to obtain for the average consumer.
Increase in Ride Sharing Demand
The future of connected cars will come with opportunities for reducing cars and emissions on the road. Statistically, personal vehicles are driven for 1-2 hours a day and left sitting for the remainder. This creates a market for the use of available cars during downtime which can be dispatched with AI algorithms to match riders, optimize the best routes, and find self-charging stations for electric vehicles. Ride-hailing and ride-sharing apps will make car ownership a thing of the past if the costs of owning a personal vehicle begin to outweigh the costs of on-demand autonomous rides. Costs of insurance, servicing a vehicle, fuel, license and registration, and many other fees can be eliminated by using ride-sharing as a service to replace traditional car ownership, not to mention dramatic increases in road safety and fewer pedestrian accidents.
As software development has shown to greatly outpace hardware development, automakers will aim, in this decade of the 2020s, to shift from making traditionally technologically-locked cars to updateable, smart vehicles that are connected to AI-based platforms. Evolving ADAS technologies and advances in AI-assisted self-driving vehicles will make the roads safer for drivers, riders, and pedestrians alike. The future of connected cars is bright and Jim Pattison Lease is dedicated to implementing innovations in-vehicle technologies to assist fleet managers in optimizing their fleet with energy-efficient vehicles, improve road safety by identifying preventable motor vehicle accidents, and recommending the optimal technologies to suit every fleet’s specific needs.
Written by Timothy Tsao
Innovation & Product Development Specialist
Jim Pattison Lease