5 Ways IoT is Changing the Automotive and Transportation Industries
February 23, 2017

The internet of things (IoT) is changing the way we interact with our everyday possessions and how they interact with each other. They enable previously unconnected devices to send information and data to other devices, all with the goal of creating a better experience for consumers and enterprises alike. For the automotive and transportation industries, IoT gives companies great opportunities to improve the safety, efficiency, and entertainment aspects of their products. Regardless of your company’s progress with integrating IoT, you’re sure to get some ideas from our chosen five ways this technology is changing the industry.

1. London’s Public Transportation System

Over the past several years, the Transport for London (TfL) has tested a variety of IoT technologies to improve safety and create better experiences for passengers. Back in 2014, TfL trialed screens that showed available seating on the upper decks of their busses. Instead of relying on sensors, capacity was determined with the buses’ existing camera systems. In 2015, the TfL started reviewing sensor systems that would monitor bus blind spots to reduce vehicle and pedestrian collisions. Both trials were part of London’s goal to become a leading global smart city.

2. Tesla’s Master Plan

Last summer, Tesla’s Elon Musk revealed the second phase of his Master Plan, which focuses on smart car technology. One goal is to have cars that are powered with solar roofs and with autopilot technology that is ten times safer than human drivers. Another product, the Tesla Bus, will automatically match the speed of surrounding traffic. Finally, Tesla wants to encourage vehicle sharing by paying drivers to own one of its cars and have it drive others around when not in use.

3. Over-the-Air Software Updates

We all receive app and software updates on our mobile devices on a regular basis. Now imagine receiving these over-the-air (OTA) updates for your car. This is what Fiat Chrysler realized when the company discovered a vulnerability that could allow hackers to take over Jeep Cherokees. The company issued USB drives to vehicle owners with the software fix, a slow and inefficient process. Market intelligence company ABI estimates that one-third of recalls can be addressed with OTA updates. Safety aside, OTA updates can give app developers and manufacturers alike the flexibility to push out the smallest of changes at little cost.

4. Infotainment in Cars

Of course, IoT isn’t limited to safety and efficiency. Today’s cars provide entertainment for passengers in two ways. Embedded cars use chipsets and built-in antennas while tethered cars use hardware so passengers can connect their smartphones. Don’t forget that app integrations — from Google Maps to Spotify — allow passengers to interact with their favorite apps while driving. There is only growing opportunity for companies to team with auto companies to deliver their own applications.

5. Smart Highways

While apps like Google Maps show traffic volumes on routes, wouldn’t it be nice to remove traffic jams altogether? That was the challenge when Cisco teamed up with Austrian autobahn company ASFiNAG to create a smart highway to eliminate traffic problems. Cisco connected thousands of sensors through a network of switches and routers to send real-time information including traffic speed measurements and weather information to authorities. Among the results of this project is the reduced need for infrastructure investment due to better road use.

The Future of Transportation

By 2020, the automobile will be the number one connected device. There’s potential for companies to leverage IoT technology in cars to bring customers services from location-based offers to personal health monitoring. In fact, it’s not a stretch to think that car companies today will have to become the leading software companies of tomorrow (Apple and Google’s move into the car space is just one threat). Companies from both industries need to work together to create the best products for their customers. Now, it’s time for you to think about how you can integrate IoT into your car-related products or services and join the technology revolution.

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