Auto tech trends to watch out for in 2019
The automotive industry is becoming more reliant on digital technologies that will shape the sector in 2019.
Today, as digital transformation penetrates the automotive sector, cars are becoming so fast on the wheels to becoming tech accessories. While a vehicle’s fundamental purpose (transport from one point to another) remains unchanged, practically all of its value-added characteristics are now related to digital capabilities, shifting the focus from hardware to software content.
Considering the size of the industry, the sector has the power to influence the direction in which humanity and social welfare will progress in future.
Technology-driven trends have always been revolutionising the way in which automotive industry players react to the changing behaviour of consumers, build partnerships, and bring about change.
As comprehensive directions in vehicle innovation accelerate (think autonomous driving, electrification, and vehicle data use), automotive developers need to adjust and boost their tech development efforts.
Change patterns in car usage and consumer behaviour
At the root of automotive trends, there will be change in customer behaviour and use patterns as both a driving force and a consequence of evolving automotive technology. Interland Software analysed this change in a trend report in 2017, and the process has not slowed a bit: shared mobility and Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) solutions are still expected to disrupt the automotive and transport industries.
Electric powertrains continue their march to success, and the growth of EV (electric vehicle) sale seems unstoppable as gas prices mount and environmental regulations tighten. Consumer preferences, too, are pointing to increased use of electric cars, and as necessary infrastructure of charging stations are developed, EVs are expected to become even more popular.
But Nigeria seems to suffer a setback in EVs, as experience has shown that the country is a dumping ground for a variety of banned products. Given its preference for used vehicles over brand new ones due to very poor purchasing power of the masses, it stands at a higher risk of dumping when other countries eventually phased out the use of conventional fuel cars.
With digital transformation, the growing focus on user experience is evident in all industries, and is already affecting automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), and suppliers. Customers increasingly demand an integrated tech environment that connects all their devices over the internet of things (IoT), and provides a seamless user experience across devices including mobile phones, notebooks, tablets, and on-board vehicle infotainment systems.
Already, smartphone integration systems like Apple AirPlay or Android Auto has began to surface on offers in the latest models. Similar features are only expected to grow in significance as the tech ecosystem surrounding drivers further expand. An example of such integration is the introduction of an all-new 2020 Lincoln Aviator with advanced technologies that scan the road ahead for uneven pavement, and allow users to drive using their smartphone instead of a key.
All of these, of course, had widespread implications for automotive developers that are still building their digital capabilities through hiring, acquisitions, or partnering with established tech innovators.
Big and fast mobility data
Describing the latest car models, the term ‘supercomputers on wheels’ has been thrown around a lot in recent years. It’s not just about software; more and more sensors are added to vehicles, posing new challenges and opening up new opportunities. Sensor fusion technology has become an important field in and of itself to deliver solutions for integrating and intelligently managing the data coming from the large number of sensors in a modern car.
All that data is shared via fast-evolving connectivity capabilities. New CV2X (cellular vehicle-to-everything) technologies like LTE-V2X and 5G are paving the way for true vehicle autonomy, allowing cars to communicate with other vehicles, smart traffic signs, and just about any other “thing” wirelessly connected to the IoT. In terms of safety, predictive collision avoidance technology could be one of the most important benefits.
But sensors and connectivity add up to much more, affecting not just safety, but also the fundamental principles of the mobility industry.
Efficient ways of processing all this automotive big data will enable mobility companies to implement new services around predictive maintenance. In order to manage and make sense of these vast amounts of data, Artificial Intelligence will be a key piece of technology.
It is probably safe to state that in 2018, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become the number one buzzword across industries. In the automotive field, developers expect to harness the power of AI to improve safety, comfort, and performance.
Contextual Artificial Intelligence, and Deep Learning are keywords to watch out for. As a start, contextual AI will support the development of accurate voice-control systems. Later on, contextual reasoning frameworks could greatly contribute to the safety of autonomous vehicles. Shared vehicles will easily recognise preferences, while AI-powered infotainment systems will further contribute to making journeys more comfortable.
Automotive companies across the world are investing in developing their capabilities around simulation testing, image recognition technologies, image processing, and enlisting the help of deep learning for more accurate decision-making. In the meantime, deep learning is already used to train algorithms powering the future’s self-driving cars.
Driver monitoring systems (consisting of cameras and sensors to monitor driver alertness) are already standard on some luxury models, and carmakers are experimenting with brain-to-vehicle tech to enhance car safety. Artificial Intelligence is an important pillar of these technologies, and its wide range of applications will only expand as the technology develops.
Other technologies driving automotive development
Other technologies already seen elsewhere are penetrating the auto industry, and could significantly impact safety, efficiency, and comfort. For instance, 3D printing has been touted for years as a transformative piece of technology, and we will finally see the world’s first 3D printed car roll off the production platform and onto Chinese roads in 2019.
Changing car architectures to drive digital mobility
In order to incorporate all that technology into vehicles, carmakers are looking to innovate new, modular car architectures. Through the consolidation of ECUs (electronic control units) and their layered classification, BMW is working on a modularized Service-oriented Architecture (SOA) that will help optimize the safety and performance of complex technology architectures.
Similar pieces of innovation on the back-end of automotive development will help overcome challenges of scalability, complexity, and security while also enabling developers to use Agile practices and robust question and answers strategies. In the meantime, reducing fragmentation and increasing standardization will enable developers to realize efficiencies in building the complex high-tech solutions embedded in the cars of the future.