Connected cars are defined as vehicles that have access to the internet and, as a result, can send or receive signals, interact with other vehicles near them, and even sense the physical environment surrounding them. By connecting cars to what they reference as the internet of things (IoT), consumers can enjoy a more personalized, streamlined, and safer driving experience.

Experts predict the automotive industry will see rapid changes over the next decade as consumers jump on the connected car bandwagon. The demand for automotive connectivity is accelerating rapidly, according to research firm McKinsey & Company. In 2014, about 20 percent of consumers said they would be willing to switch their current car brand to enjoy better connectivity to other vehicles on the road, and just one year later, that number nearly doubled to 37 percent. A 2016 report from Business Insider Intelligence predicted that by 2021, more than 380 million connected cars will be on the road.

Take a look at how this new connectivity could change — and already has changed — the act of driving.

Man uses the touch screen in his connected car panel

Better In-Car Communication

Fully autonomous (driverless) cars are still quite a few years away. Even if cars are developed and tested, there are still many regulatory hurdles to overcome, according to Business Insider. However, technology is already headed in that direction with vehicles already equipped with in-car Wi-Fi, built-in cellular connections, and vehicle-to-vehicle communication.

Ford and Toyota are among the manufacturers who have introduced software that allows more communication between a car's internal computer and the driver's smartphone. This creates opportunities to improve the driving experience in many different ways, including having the car tell the driver when fuel is low while the connected app automatically finds the nearest gas station and using voice commands to start the car from inside the home.

Total Connection

Today, most connectivity apps are designed to enhance navigation, deliver news and music, or offer ecommerce options, but the time is coming when connectivity will blur the line between home and car. BMW has already partnered with SmartThings to allow drivers to integrate smart home functionality into their cars. Drivers can now use their cars to complete home functions, such as turning on the oven, adjusting the thermostat, and locking or unlocking doors. This "vehicle to everything" (V2E) approach allows drivers to accomplish more than ever before from the comfort of their vehicles.

Wireless communications used in connected cars to navigate the internet of things

Improved Safety

With automated emergency management, drivers and passengers are less likely to experience situations that put them at risk, such as becoming stranded due to a mechanical problem or getting lost in a dark, unfamiliar area. Many cars already alert drivers if they drift out of a lane or get too close to the vehicle in front of them. Drivers can also find detours to avoid traffic jams and learn which roads are closed temporarily.

Coming features will further enhance safety. Connected car features may include remote maintenance and automatic fuel-efficient driving, for example. As technology allows vehicles to communicate better with one another, accident rates should go down, which could directly affect insurance companies. Insurers are already using the IoT to monitor and understand driving habits, which could lead to lower insurance rates for good drivers and safer roads for everyone.

Are you looking forward to the future of connected driving? Tell us which connectivity features you can't wait to see on your next car on Facebook.


About the author