In 1989, we all got in that DeLorean with Marty McFly and dreamed that by 2015, the cities would be full of flying cars. That vision of Zemeckis and Spielberg in the movie Back To The Future: Part II is not far from our reality, in which the driving experience and the search for new solutions for cities are commonplace.
Traditionally, the automotive sector has served as a measure of the progress of the society as they have evolved in parallel. Concurring with this, in the last 25 years, there has been a real revolution thanks to the integration of new technologies not only in the production processes, but also in the very cars.
And with this, new players such as software developers or technology companies have entered the market, helping the most innovative car producers in the development and design of new products and new features. It is the example of companies like Google or IBM that are making their way into the automotive market.
One of the results of the integration of new technologies in the sector is the so-called “connected car“, a “vehicle capable of optimizing its own operation and maintenance, as well as the comfort of passengers through on-board sensors and connectivity to Internet” according to McKinsey.
The idea of the connected car comes from the Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X) connectivity that involves connecting vehicles to the world as if they were a wheeled smartphone. These connections are in any case bidirectional and reciprocal.
The Vehicle-to-Everything communication aims to collect data in order to improve the supply and the service life of the vehicles and their complementary services, as well as mobility in cities, achieving a better, safer and more civilized driving environment. What, in short, allows to create a unique driving experience, fully integrated and highly personalized for each driver.
Nowadays, there are different typologies of car connectivity that are being worked on such as:
- Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I). It connects vehicles directly to the road system and thus makes it possible to collect data on traffic, or even on how weather conditions affect road conditions. This has a direct impact on the creation of safer driving environments in which, for example, traffic lights can be self-regulated according to traffic, or light signals on a road can be automatically adapted according to the information they receive from vehicles on the road.
- Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V). It connects vehicles with each other. This allows the driver, for example, to know the speed of the vehicle in front of him in order to adapt his own speed, or even the vehicle itself to adapt its speed according to the signal it receives from the front car.
- Vehicle-to-Pedestrian (V2P). It connects vehicles with pedestrians, cyclists, and other road users. It is currently one of the most researched trends in terms of safety, as it helps to the reduction of the number of accidents between the different road agents and, in short, improves their coexistence. For example, there are already vehicles that have a sensor that alerts you about the proximity of a pedestrian depending on the location.
- Vehicle-to-Device (V2D). It connects vehicles with devices. One of the most expanded examples of V2D today is the existence of mobile applications that allow you to open the car without using the keys. This is possible thanks to a wireless signal and the car/app location.
- Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G). It connects vehicles with the electrical network. This current emerges together with the electric and plug-in hybrids cars. The underlying idea is that the cars are the ones that produce and store the energy autonomously, and can even sell it to the electricity grid. Maybe tomorrow, we drivers will produce our own energy.
Thanks to the application of this type of connectivities, the autonomous car is now a reality. This is a specific connected car where Artificial Intelligence is applied to guarantee its autonomy and thus to be able to learn by itself and to self-manage. This typology of car arises from the union of a vehicle, a 5G connection and the Internet of Things, therefore to the V2X (Vehicle-to-Everything) connectivity.
Thanks to all of this, we can already talk about the era of the Internet of Vehicles (IoV), which is revolutionizing the automotive sector, both from a market perspective, and from the perspective of users. And who knows if sooner or later, we will start using Brain-to-Vehicle technology and we can drive our cars simply through mental commands.
And although it is true that cars still do not fly as Zemeckis and Spielberg seemed to predict, the driving experience is increasingly aimed at making vehicles more and more autonomous and along with that transforming cities.