In India, a large number of people die on the roads due to speeding of vehicles and poor traffic conditions. Most cars face everyday nicks and cuts while others call for attention in terms of better safety and technology. One serious road accident takes place every minute, and 16 people die on Indian roads every hour! Car connectivity can play a serious role in curbing accidents and saving lives.
On one hand, Internet penetration and a growing demand for smartphones has turned the country into the second largest smartphone market in the globe. Add to it a renewed interest by the automotive industry in harnessing technology and building smart societies (and cities) in which people and technology help in creating harmonious living conditions. Connected cars and easy-to-use driving support systems are the new face of car technology aimed at reducing traffic congestion in cities and also benefit a car driver by providing him/her with secure, intuitive and comfortable connectivity features.
If connectivity is the new lingo on car safety in the country, looking at the condition of Indian roads and the accident statistics, connected drivers are sure to make happy drivers. A connected car is a car that is equipped with Internet access, and a wireless local area network. It allows a car to share internet access with other devices from within and outside a vehicle. If you are on a V2V (vehicle to vehicle) network, the data exchange which takes place during the traffic hour will prevent accidents and ‘response time’ by alerting, informing and increasing accuracy and control for manual drivers.
A study by Cisco expects the number of smartphones in India to cross over 650 million in next four years. Taking advantage of the vast spread of smartphones and advances in telematics, the idea of “connected cars” and systems that connect vehicles to the Internet has found a new pace in recent years. India is also a country where the low and middle-class segments overlook safety for car affordability. Even if most car manufacturers selling cars to low-segment car consumers do feel that it lacks safety features, they might make do.
Telematics is not new in global locations like Russia, Brazil, and the US and is used actively to serve different safety purposes. Telematics has been made mandatory in all new vehicles in Europe from the year 2017. In India, I see two major roadblocks for car connectivity: the cost of telematics & the ability of the Connected Car ecosystem to come up with business models that make sense. Interestingly, the value of the global Connected Car market is predicted to reach $30.2bn in 2015 (Source: Visiongain).
Infotainment is a type of media which provides a combination of information and entertainment for car drivers that is getting popular with car owners globally. India is also picking up on infotainment for enhancing car safety and providing other important features for car safety.
Not only are connected cars the need of the day for India, I see the future of car connectivity to reach next levels with mobile phones effectively synced-in with machines (M2M- Machine to machine communication) and directly or indirectly impact urban lifestyle, be it car sensors that can detect several systems on a car and send this crucial data on a client server, or simply apply the brakes without waiting for the driver’s response time: saving accidents and human lives.
There are several companies in India today who are looking into the economy of a communication systems (V2V & M2M) and Machine-to-machine communication to improve congestions. Many such smartphone-centric devices and apps are already quite popular in the West. They come with built-in speakers for warning when you brake too hard, and store information about one’s driving and how many MPG/week you did, how many miles you drove, information about the engine, whether it was a long or short a journey, GPS, and also track local petrol prices etc. In India, smartphones come equipped with updated bluetooth technology and it wont break the bank or battery while a user is connected.
Do you support cheaper connected technology for saving lives on Indian roads? Share your thoughts and ideas.