Are connected cars the safest road trip to the future?

Connected  Car SafetyAdding connectivity, intelligence and a level of awareness to vehicles is helping in defining an entirely new landscape for communication, convenience, infotainment and safety for a landscape of cars in the US. For readers wondering what exactly are connected cars—a connected car is a car that is equipped with Internet access, and normally also comes with a wireless local area network.

I have written about connected cars and its potential in India (a country with high road accident rate of 16 people dying/minute in road accidents), but the rapidly advancing connected car ecosystem is currently on the rise and it all is likely to become an end-to-end solution for the automotive industry. Connected car technology looks like a part of evolving customer needs for they sure were ‘the’ star stuff this CES, held up at LA (in January 2016). And all for the right reasons! The grounds kept buzzing with smartphone-enabled dashboards, latest advances in driverless vehicles and so on.

There have been partnerships between car makers and tech-brands and some catching news like GM’s $500m investment in car-sharing service Lyft, which is likely to see the two companies work in sync for development of driverless vehicles. Microsoft has also partnered with connected product maker Harman to integrate key elements of Microsoft Office 365 into the in-car ‘infotainment’ systems, while Ford linked up a deal for US telecoms giant AT&T to ladder up its new Sync Connect system.

The idea of enhancing productivity while on the wheel has always crossed human minds, but driverless cars will make it possible while making us enjoy greater convenience, safety and reliability.

Even though brands have been wooing customers with grand presentations on new technology in the recently held CES, I see some hurdles in making driverless cars a reality. For one, wireless infrastructure has not progressed yet to facilitate it, be it the US or India. At the same time, car makers await legislation, which is likely to affect brands even as they need to wait for governments around the globe to support it with safety norms and insurance laws.

Car-sharing apps and financial scoops in the automotives sector is starting to shift focus from car owners to car users, and the shift has given an edge to companies like Google and Apple to make their own self-driving cars even as they realize the business prospects of connected cars running off their own operating systems.

Personally, I feel that connected cars will significantly improve road safety (especially in countries like India) and also benefit customers in different ways. With advanced features in telematics, accident breakdown notifications and real-time fault diagnosis, it is likely to increase a driver’s efficiency and response time.

What do you think? Is India ready for connected cars? Share your thoughts with me.

Sanjay Puri has been working on Indian-American issues and facilitating stronger US-India relations through USINPAC (US India Political Action Committee and AUSIB (Alliance for US India Business), two bipartisan organizations that he chairs.

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