Mobile networks and faster connectivity to reinvent smart motorways

Avneesh Prakash explores the potential impact of the Internet of Things (IoT) on the driving experience

When it comes to the transport industry, the technologies which define the driving experience haven’t significantly changed in the last 20 years. However, as network speeds increase, the Internet of Things (IoT) is poised to revolutionise this driving experience in many exciting ways.

While IoT is nothing new to many industries—and has well established use cases across telematics, fleet management, and asset tracking—pervasive connectivity means it can offer so much more to businesses. In fact, International Data Corporation predicts that by 2025, there will be 55.7 billion connected devices worldwide, 75% of which will be connected to an IoT platform.

Looking to the future of transport, we anticipate that as connectivity becomes more ubiquitous, both on roads and in vehicles, a new connected ecosystem will be created. But how can the automotive sector ensure these innovative solutions are rolled out to consumers in a safe and timely manner?

Connectivity in smart motorways

Allied Research Market forecasts the global electric vehicle market to reach US$802.81bn by 2027. This, along with the widespread adoption of connected vehicles has exposed the urgent need for the automotive industry to create quality services and platforms which support them. Not only this, but different use cases of IoT require different levels of connectivity, resiliency, latency and compute power.

Currently, achieving the levels of connectivity required to enable connected vehicles and roadways to communicate requires a stable, powerful network globally. To achieve this, vehicle manufacturers typically partner with individual Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) for each specific country in which they want to operate. However, this results in connected vehicle ecosystems operating over a single network, which is not as efficient as the number of connected devices grow.

By 2025, there will be 55.7 billion connected devices worldwide, 75% of which will be connected to an IoT platform

Ideally, for vehicle manufacturers to achieve the best possible quality networks connections for each connected vehicle, they need access to multiple MNOs, with the real-time intelligence to switch networks for optimum quality of service at any given time and in any given country. This helps their services avoid outages and maintain the best costs and coverage.

To make the most of MNOs, automotive businesses need a platform such as Tata Communications’ MOVE, which can assimilate and aggregate data from a rich variety of sources across devices and the network. This data can be used for analytics and applying intelligence on delivering the highest quality of service and next-gen driver experience in any given country, for any use case, in a network and device agnostic manner.

The future of connectivity

When looking at the future of connectivity, next-gen networks are set to lead a significant change as to how the auto industry approaches on-road connectivity. Modern vehicles have an array of sensors, location trackers and on-board diagnostics. They gather reams of data that will be sent wirelessly in real time over super-fast mobile networks. And not only could this kind of connectivity keep drivers safer and traffic flowing more freely, but it could also reduce pollution and carbon emissions. For instance, by providing real-time access to service logs and telematics, service centres will be able to see a car’s full diagnostics instantly and remotely. This means they will also be able to predict breakdowns and pre-empt maintenance.

By addressing smaller issues remotely, vehicle problems are resolved before they lead to issues requiring costly solutions. In the case of a more damaging breakdown or crash, faster connectivity enables a driver to make an emergency call (eCall) or breakdown call (B-call), ensuring urgent assistance is provided—all underpinned by real-time data. Finally, having a more powerful network speed means that software errors and patches will no longer be a problem as cars will be able to receive over-the-air software updates to maintain the vehicle software.

Telematics, infotainment, and OTA updates depend on the ability to transfer data when and where required by the customer

The smart motorway ecosystem

However, connectivity on highways has much more potential than just on-board software. Smart highways are set to become entire connected ecosystems. The industry is gradually moving towards a driving experience controlled by IoT, and technology will surely help roads to become more cost-effective, safer, and more sustainable.

Next-gen networks are encouraging the rise of sensors and smart devices which, when combined, can allow real-time interaction between the road infrastructure and the vehicles that use it. Telematics technology could become central to solving some of the biggest challenges as a result of urbanisation, provide relief to congested transport infrastructure, and improve the environment.

As access to expanded and more powerful connectivity grows—and costs decrease as this technology matures—every connected device holds an enormous potential to collect and transmit relevant data to the connected vehicles during the journey and convey actionable insights back to the vehicle.

Next-gen networks are encouraging the rise of sensors and smart devices which, when combined, can allow real-time interaction between the road infrastructure and the vehicles that use it

In turn, this data can be used to improve customer service and create more efficient vehicle operations. Overall, this would give rise to new automotive manufacturing standards, create greater operational efficiency, and provide elevated driving experience to the consumers.

Ultimately, by understanding and addressing customer needs on a deeper level than ever before, brands could become much more than just a badge on the front of the bonnet or a third-party logo on the dashboard’s touchscreen. They could help to revolutionise the driving experience for millions in a cost-effective and sustainable manner.

With the proliferation of electric vehicles and augmentation in the connected automobiles, the future of transport and connectivity are intertwined. It’s an exciting space to watch with fast-moving developments and new innovations that are poised to revolutionise how we think about transport and the experience of driving.


About the author: Avneesh Prakash is Vice President, Mobility, at Tata Communications

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