Connected VehicleExperts Say!Interviews

Connected Cars: Fledging optimism for a collaborative transportation sector

Connected car has gained huge traction over the past couple of years, resulting in an entirely new ecosystem of players, huge investments and multi-billion dollar ventures. While it is still unclear as to where the industry will go or what hurdles it will have to overcome, the prize for innovation has made the journey worthwhile for both corporations and start-ups. 

In an interview with Telematics Wire, Atul Kishore of American Automobile Association (AAA) shares his visionary opinion on the connected car technology and its roadmap ahead. Atul leads AAA’s Connected Car efforts, includ­ing Automotive Engineering, the Mem­ber Vehicle Relationship Management initiative, Location Based Services (LBS) and partnering endeavors. He was involved in the launch of the first in-vehicle navigation and telematics systems at Nissan and was their first North American engineer to be sent to Japan to learn the Nissan Development Process. He worked in Nissan’s electronics quality reliability and design sections. At Ford, Atul managed the development of a $2 billion strategy for automotive emerging market localiza­tion and international joint-venture relationships.

Let’s get to know what AAA has to share with us…

Can you tell us something about the on-going activities at AAA in the ‘connected car’ space?

Providing next generation connected car services to AAA Members, protecting the rights of motorists and improving safety and use of new vehicle technologies for consumers is a top priority for AAA. We are leveraging our nationwide fleet, AAA Approved Auto Repair shops, call centers and mobile application to be integrated with connected car technology to provide members with relevant information.

Atul Kishore | AAA

In your opinion, what are the advantages that the transportation sector is going to reap out of the connected vehicle services?

Approximately one-in-five new cars sold in the US this year will be connected, meaning the vehicle will collect and transmit data outside of the vehicle to improve safety and convenience for drivers.  Within a decade, AAA expects the majority of cars on the road will be able to identify problems before breakdowns occur, use data to reduce crashes and help drivers save time and money.

Connected cars have the ability to save lives when vehicles can communicate with other vehicles about critical situations up ahead. Someday, an accident in a mountainous area could reduce the speed of all upcoming traffic to avoid a pileup, or caution the driver if an animal is sitting in the road ahead.

The connected car is creating a new landscape for the automotive industry and in-vehicle technologies are becoming a marketing advantage for OEM’s. The aftermarket repair business is also expected to expand in number as they will need to provide enhanced diagnostics.

How do you think the connected cars paradigm is progressing worldwide? What are the services that are getting traction amongst users?

The connected car gained significant attention with the growth of smart phone technology. Users are accustomed to having information at their fingertips. Real time information such as weather conditions, navigation and vehicle service needs are likely to be attractive benefits for motorists to access in vehicle.

Location based Services (LBS) and safety and security will continue to be key “wants” globally.  While some of the services may be marketed differently, the back -end system development is likely to be identical.

Connected car is often correlated with ‘distracted driving’. What are your views on the same? 

Connected car technology has the ability to improve safety and convenience for drivers, but that technology needs to be seamless without ANY driver interaction.  While driving, a motorist should be concentrating 100% of their driving.

Research from AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety last year showed dangerous mental distractions exist even when drivers keep their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road.  The research found that as mental workload and distractions increase reaction time slows, brain function is compromised, drivers scan the road less and miss visual cues, potentially resulting in drivers not seeing items right in front of them including stop signs and pedestrians.

What is the future of connected cars in those regions that are still untapped (India, China, Brazil) or are in process of adopting this all-new technology?

There is large potential for this technology in India, China and Brazil. These countries have a large volume of cars and the data collected will benefit the world. The infotainment feature may be different but vehicle safety and engineering features will be the same.

In 2008 AAA, ARC Europe and the Australian Automobile Association founded the Global Mobility Alliance (GMA) to facilitate global collaboration and information exchange between more than 70 GMA clubs in 33 countries.  The GMA clubs represent more than 100 million members.  The different entities work closely on many global initiatives.

There have been some region specific demands for connected car services. How do you think the automotive industry would cater to such diverse requirements?

Varying requirements are not unique to connected cars. Different regions have different vehicle requirements such as emission and safety standards (ISO, SAE, EURO, Bharat and FMVSS). Cars will be designed to meet regional requirements with customer preferences in mind.

Being a wireless and automotive industry veteran, how do you find that these two different industries can leverage each other’s potential?

With the explosion of the smart phones, OEMs are changing their ways.  Customers are demanding more features in their vehicle and will be making buying decisions based on these features. Cars last 15-20+ years, especially in emerging markets, so the key for manufactures and wireless companies will be to anticipate features that will be desired in older vehicles.

How far or close are we to the reality of being ubiquitously ‘connected’ while driving?

The timing related to market availability of connected cars varies by county. Larger countries with larger markets and more competition have a strong desire to get vehicles to market with this new technology.   Cars have features today that brake, accelerate and park themselves today.  New features are being added yearly.  The technology of connected vehicles is improving at a steady pace, but legal bottlenecks, IP issues, standards and business objectives will prevent a fully ubiquitous vehicle from coming to market for 10 – 15 years. 

 For more updates on Connected Cars and Telematics please stay tuned with Telematics Wire. 


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