Connected VehicleCybersecurity

How leading car makers can respond to increased connected car demands

When we think of the future of mobility, one thing we can be certain of is an increase in the adoption of connected devices, in particular connected vehicles. The global connected car market is expected to exceed $219 Billion by 2025, with the number of vehicles worldwide expected to be 2.03 Billion by 2030 .
The popularity of connected cars is largely down to the convenience that Internet of Things (IoT) technology can offer to drivers and car owners, as well as increased efficiency, safety and lifestyle/entertainment features.
But how are car makers dealing with this current consumer demand and, if the popularity of the industry continues to accelerate at its current pace – as expected – how will OEMs cope with future consumer expectations?
In this article we want to take a look at some of the ways in which car makers can secure their standing as future mobility providers as the market evolves and accelerates inline with the exploding IoT market.
Current state of connected car market
Drivers and other car users are waking up to the advantages connected vehicles can offer them in terms of safety, convenience and efficiency. Let’s take a closer look at what’s luring customers away from traditional vehicles and towards connected ones:
Safety
There are numerous ways in which connected vehicles can improve the safety of drivers, passengers and vulnerable road users like pedestrians and cyclists. A major part of this safety revolution is the sensory equipment installed into connected cars which works to prevent accidents between vehicles and between vehicles and pedestrians. These sensors, when coupled with smart technology, have already been proven to significantly reduce road accidents; the sensors detect oncoming vehicles or objects, and, when the driver does not react in time, the car can correct human oversight using smart technology. Finally, real time updates direct to the dashboard keep the driver informed about dangerous road hazards or weather conditions. These live updates ensure that drivers make the safest decisions while driving.
Convenience
Convenience to the driver and passengers is perhaps the largest draw to potential connected car customers.
A connected car enhances the experience of owning or using a car thanks to the vast array of connected car apps and services which blend seamlessly with the smart phone applications the user has already incorporated into his or her routine. The connected vehicle naturally leads on from these, creating more consistent and harmonious experiences that connect flawlessly with the rest of the user’s daily interactions. In addition, many routine tasks like parking can be automatized, or part-automatized, simply making life easier for drivers.
Efficiencies
There are numerous financial and environmental advantages to driving a connected car. Potential engineering or technical problems with the vehicle can be detected much earlier by the vehicle itself, which will then alert the driver to what needs to be repaired. Early detection of these issues ensures that faults don’t become more serious (and therefore, more expensive to fix), saving the driver time and money later down the line.
Additionally, a connected car is always aware of the most efficient route a driver should take, taking into account minute by minute changes in weather, road conditions, accidents or traffic. Thanks to this, significant amounts of money and time can be saved. It’s good news for the environment too as the vehicle will spend less time sitting in traffic, polluting the air around it.
What should car makers do if they want to meet consumer demand?
Share data
As we have seen, thanks to the host of advantages IoT technology can offer car drivers, consumer demand for connected vehicles from both businesses like haulage firms and taxi fleets as well as individual drivers is on the rise.
But how can car makers meet this demand in order to give customers what they want?
One area that holds a great deal of unlocked potential right now is data sharing. Currently major car makers are extremely cautious in how they handle the sharing of customer data, and rightly so. With huge concerns within the industry and beyond about the risk of cyber attacks and other types of security breaches as well as well-documented user concerns about the protection of personal data and a user’s right to privacy, any data sharing that car makers engage in needs to be undertaken in such a way as to preclude any potential risks. Additionally, customers need to be reassured that their data is not collected or used without their permission and that their personal privacy and security is guaranteed.
But carmakers need to do more than simply reassure. A crucial responsibility for major vehicle manufacturers will be to alert users to the importance of which devices they allow to connect to their car and for what purpose. This is where user consent needs to be sought and GDPR regulations stringently applied. Third party IoT vendors must clearly define why their want to interact with the car and what they plan to do with any data that they get from the car, but it’s the job of the OEMs to reassure users of their data security. When this responsibility has been fully on-boarded by OEMs, it will make responding to connected car demands from drivers even easier.
What’s clear is that although car makers see the huge potential in IoT technology and the opportunities that await them in new digital products, they are extremely serious about getting things right from the start, particularly in regard to data sharing. What could help ease things along more quickly would be the general adoption by multiple car makers of a business model that is proven to protect consumer data while simultaneously providing car makers and third party applications with the data they need to provide optimum services to users.
There are several car companies making strides in this area right now. Mercedes-Benz is a great example of a carmaker taking a progressive approach to data sharing. The auto giant has set up sub-organisations within its business which are specifically designed to handle data. In doing so, monetisation via the use of APIs is not attached to the organisation at large, but instead managed by a separate unit that is required to become sustainable by itself through digital business models. This method ensures the security of data, and prevents unnecessary data transference that could potentially leave users vulnerable and their privacy compromised. It also makes these sub-organisations accountable for their actions and totally self-sufficient.
Enable developers to build better services
A crucial element to carmakers’ success in responding to driver needs will be by facilitating app development. This will only be achieved by connecting with the already thriving (connected car) application development community.
Online developer communities are notoriously hard to penetrate from outside organisations as many developers perceive big business as going against the free and open source culture that is intrinsic to the creativity, discovery and innovation that developers value so highly. And it makes sense that the open-source culture is so revered: it is this aspect of app development that makes it such an exciting field to be a part of. In contrast, big corporations can often be perceived as closed and bureaucratic and therefore stifling the very experimentation that leads to technological breakthroughs and discoveries.
However when original source code is made freely available for redistribution and modification by development teams innovation can flourish. Once car companies are able to share their data in a secure way with developers we will be making strides towards creating services which directly respond to connected car demands from drivers.
As we outlined in the previous section, secure data sharing will be the first step to enabling developers to build better services. But besides simply sharing car data and connecting with development communities who wish to work with it, what else can carmakers do to enable developers to build better services that meet the demands of drivers and car users?
A significant step that carmakers can make to further enable development is by providing the key resources for app development and innovation that developers need to get started. By offering programmers the tools and expertise they need to work on their connected car applications car makers will be able to connect with developers at an earlier stage of development. Indeed, it will make carmakers crucial to the process itself. For, despite the millions of software and app developers working on groundbreaking products around the world, right now working as a ‘connected car developer’ is still relatively niche. If carmakers can offer easy to understand documentation, tools and expertise to developers with an interest in the field, we will very soon have much larger numbers of connected car developers, more innovation and more great products to offer customers.
In addition car manufacturers will be able to guide application development towards meeting their current needs, as well as explore innovative products from smaller companies and invest in industry-changing applications before they hit the market.
Some great examples of car makers who are already doing this are Porsche, with their NEXT OI Competition, and Mercedes-Benz, via their Mercedes-Benz Digital Challenge back in 2017.
These competitions allowed developers access to connected car APIs specifically for Porsche and Mercedes-Benz vehicles, as well as SDKs for different operating systems. Using car emulators, developers could test their apps and services on different vehicle models in a true-to-life environment therefore foregoing the need to interact with or access real vehicles. With free, easy access, tutorials, tools and workspaces available for developers, innovation naturally flourished.
Competitions like these give carmakers the chance to provide developers with specific vehicle APIs to work with, with functions taken directly from their own vehicles so that applications can be tailored to their vehicles and their specific customer base. In both cases innovation was highly rewarded which lead to many of the applicants pursuing exciting new ideas for connected car apps and services.
Engage enablers
In order for car companies to successfully engage with developer communities and provide developers with the facilities they need to develop innovative apps and services for their car models, advanced technical enablers are needed to provide both the car companies and the developers with the technical support to bridge the gap.
This technical support could consist of workspaces within which developers can build their apps and communicate with their team members, to SDKs and tutorials. Additionally technology such as car emulators that provide a realistic testing ground for connected car APIs can be provided in these workspaces by enablers, based precisely on the vehicle designs from car makers themselves.
At HIGH MOBILITY we’ve had first hand experience of working as an enabler with numerous companies, including Iota and Daimler, through the provision of permanent workspaces on our platform that are tailor-made for their branding and vehicles. These workspaces can consist of competition modules, pilots for upcoming projects or even separate app approval.
As an enabler between the OEM and the development community we have had the advantage of being able to see connected car app development from both sides.
– From the side of the OEM we have seen how these companies are looking to engage and work with developers to create user-orientated applications that function specifically with their vehicle models to the benefit of their target customer.
– From the side of the developer, they are seeking access to data and tools to build and test their applications and experiment with new APIs.
– As the ‘middleman’ we are able to provide a workspace which both sides can access. The developer can build his or her team, connect with other teams and exchange ideas, access SDKs and tutorials, submit applications for pilot projects, enter competitions and gain help or advice from technical experts. The OEM can take a look at what the developers are working on, study analytics of most-used APIs and track trends in software development, have a direct link to the developer community, and be a part of the app-making process from day one. In doing so the OEM has the unique opportunity to work with developers to build tailor-made products that fit their customer’s needs.
Conclusion
Carmakers are right to be extremely cautious in their approach to data sharing. However with the three-pronged approach we’ve outlined car makers can more successfully respond to customers’ needs and wants. Put simply, educating users on how and when to share their data, taking full responsibility for user security and implementing a business model that is proven to protect consumer data while simultaneously providing car makers and third party applications with the information they need to provide optimum services could be a great first step for carmakers to make the most of this IoT opportunity.
Secondly, carmakers are able to enable the development of better services through the sharing of data and by opening up their source code. This will attract and retain the developer community, who thrive on innovation, problem solving and creative challenges. Offering developers key services, tools and resources will also endear developers to the industry and ensure that building key customer services is a painless process.
Thirdly, engaging the enablers who work between the third party services and the car manufacturers will bridge the skills and tools gap that currently makes connected car app development such a disjointed process.
We’re excited to see how carmakers continue to build on the fantastic work that has already been done in the field of connected cars and, for ourselves as an enabler we’re looking forward to further bridging the gap between the manufacturer and the development community. We don’t think we’ll be waiting long before connected car developers make up a significant percentage of the development community in their own right and we can’t wait.
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Author:
Risto Vahtra, CEO HIGH MOBILITY
Risto began his career in technical design before turning his hand to building user experience concepts at Volvo Cars and connected car applications with many premium European automakers. Always fascinated by the emotions that the automobile evokes in people, he co-founded HIGH MOBILITY to reimagine how automakers, designers and software developers can better collaborate in the pursuit of creating fully programmable cars.

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