New road vehicles are fascinating. The headline-grabbing articles regarding electric vehicles and autonomous driving modes are great for those fortunate enough to be able to afford a new, high-end vehicle. For the rest of us, it’s similar to watching Bezos and Branson fly into space and debate the Kármán Line: whilst it’s a great technological feat and will sure feel fantastic for those with £250k to spend on a 9-minute flight, it’s a distant dream for most.
For the average UK driver, although the new technology in cars might only be 8 years away (given the average age of a car is 8 years), which is much sooner than the likely availability of mass-market space flights (my great-grandchildren might be lucky), it still doesn’t really impact people today.
What would be incredibly powerful, however, is to build technology that can leverage the capability in new cars and share the benefits with older vehicles. This is where connected vehicles can play their part in coordination with mobile applications.
One of the major selling points of connected vehicles is what’s called vehicle-to-vehicle communications. This is where a relatively modern car can send a digital signal to another, which may trigger an action (for example, a driver alert, such as notification of a car driving the wrong way down a motorway) or could even make the car reduce speed automatically with advanced crash warning systems.
However, these solutions struggle to work with unconnected vehicles, which is where mobile phone technology can play its part.
If a mobile application is hooked into the same cloud system as the connected vehicles, creating driver alerts on top of a navigation app is achievable. Whilst these cannot cause an action in the older vehicles, such as slowing it down, they can warn a driver of dangers or obstacles that may be ahead.
Here are some interesting examples:
Concealed entrance warnings on roads are relatively pointless. They are often hidden due to overgrown foliage. Drivers mostly ignore them as they have right-of-way on the road and for the majority of the time, there isn’t a car turning.
If we rethink this, a vehicle-to-vehicle communication could alert drivers in the vicinity of a concealed entrance that there is a car about to turn. Making this work with legacy vehicles is possible using an Eloy voice command which would in turn send an alert to drivers of older cars via the Eloy app as well as to newer connected vehicles.
Physical road signs are often concealed
With the Eloy app drivers can see concealed entrance warnings in vehicle
Wrong way driver
In the Bosch example linked above, the wrong way warnings work perfectly if every vehicle is connected. However, while legacy vehicles are still on the road a mobile app with navigation and in-vehicle signs and audio alerts could let a driver know he or she is going the wrong way, and warn other drivers that a vehicle is travelling the wrong way towards them.
An ambulance, or other emergency service vehicle, alert would work in a similar way to wrong way driving alerts, but could be generated by the ambulance itself for new connected vehicles, or via the app for older legacy models.
An ambulance would be able to warn other vehicles within 1 km radius that it is coming, and those alerts would appear via connected car systems or a mobile application. Suggesting cars try to pull over to one side in adequate time should also help reduce ambulance journey times.
Ice (and other hazards) on the road
This example is more technical. New cars have a range of sensors and can detect anything from ice on the road to pedestrians, which can be shared via the cloud with other connected cars but also with older vehicles via mobile apps, if critical enough to warrant a driver alert.
Whilst Eloy is thoroughly biased in this debate, I believe that mobile applications will play a huge part in our connected car future. Mobile device hardware and software will always be significantly newer than the average vehicle on the road, so has a superior ability to deliver technology solutions to drivers. Additionally, mobiles play a huge part in our lives outside of vehicles, which is an important piece in the mobility solutions puzzle such as onward travel, parking, electric vehicle charging, and planning trips.
We need to make sure that the majority of road users gain from our modern innovations so that people are not left waiting 8 years to realise the benefit.