Car of the future is M2M-ready

Car of the future is M2M-ready

Technology News |
By eeNews Europe

Many cars already feature Internet connectivity, enabling drivers to retrieve e-mails, conduct a Google search, request remote diagnosis from a shop following a breakdown, or display empty parking places. But there are many manufacturers taking an additional step to develop vehicles that not only receive data, but can also actively send messages.

One such example is the European Commission’s emergency eCall system, which is on target for installation in every new car by 2015. The aim of the program is to reduce the number of road casualties, and the eCall system does this by supplementing the vehicle’s on-board electronics with a permanently-installed SIM card and GPS module. These additional connectivity features link emergency calls to the airbag sensors, so that if an accident occurs, information about the vehicle’s location, time of the accident and identification number can be sent to rescue services, along with the driving directions, severity of the accident and even the number of fastened seatbelts within the vehicle. Consequently, rescue services can send help to the accident site immediately or establish a voice connection with the vehicle. This technology is a testament to the European Commission’s claim that its eCall international emergency system could save around 2,500 lives a year and estimates that it will also result in a 15% drop in the number of casualties involving seriously injured persons.

In-car M2M solutions have also been developed to make life easier for drivers, such as Daimler’s car2go project in Austin, Texas (screen shot of the project site pictured nearby). Members have a card that they can use to reserve a vehicle ahead of time or as transport is required. They do this by simply holding their card up to a specially-installed reader on the windshield of car2go’s branded blue and white smart cars, which are located all over downtown Austin. Once inside the vehicle, the card requests the member’s secure login pin and is used to start the car’s ignition. Once finished with the car, the member simply parks it back within the designated home area for the car2go team to refuel and clean it for the next user, and their credit/debit card is then billed for the amount of time they used the car, calculated down to the exact minute.

Vehicle-to-vehicle communications

Another example of innovative, secure communication in traffic is the development of secure Vehicle-to-X communications. One example is Deutsche Bahn’s solution for networking car-sharing, electro-mobility and fleet management. Following the successful secure transfer of data to and from Deutsche Bahn’s car-sharing vehicles in a pilot project in Friedrichshafen, the company is providing additional telematics services through mobile M2M communications technology. These include finding, booking and opening vehicles using a cell phone. The added telematics systems also integrate the vehicles to three networks, demonstrating how cars, trains and energy systems can be effectively linked to each other. Cars can be rented spontaneously using a special mobile app, which also transfers data such as the range and power levels within the car to the user’s smartphone via M2M communication technology so they know when to charge and for how long.

The aim of Vehicle-to-Vehicle communications and Internet connectivity within vehicles is to detect traffic jams promptly and prevent them from getting any worse. Reducing driving time and stress levels is just another benefit for road users, as is the technology being used to cut CO2 emissions through simple tactics such as preventing traffic jams. Growth in automotive M2M communications promises to become an essential part of making driving safer and more convenient in the future.

Jürgen Hase heads of Deutsche Telekom’s M2M Competence Center, based in Germany.

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