Clouds on wheels
In the future, cars will provide many of the features familiar from today's smart handhelds, and more. Drivers will be able to access personal data stored and managed in the cloud. The Internet and the car will no longer be two separate worlds, and vehicles will be able to communicate with the outside world. This new digital era will also enable entirely new business models.
"Thank you for accepting our quotation. I enclose the signed contract," dictates Lucy Lord using the voice-activated communications system in her car. She then issues the command "send", and the email is winging its way to the intended recipient. The screen displays a message indicating that the she can recharge her electric vehicle at the parking garage close to her next destination. And if she reserves a space she will qualify for a discount. "Make reservation," commands Lucy Lord. On the way, the highly successful consultant has her latest emails read out to her. Her vehicle is equipped with all the features she needs to perform office tasks while on the move. "We are not in the realm of science fiction here. We will soon be able to build a car that enables us to do the kind of things we are used to performing with our PCs, the Internet and smart phones. Practically all car manufacturers are developing concepts that will make vehicles part of Connected Life and Work," emphasizes Horst Leonberger, Senior Vice President Strategic Market Connected Car. "If we were to combine the solutions and pilot projects already in place at car manufacturers, component suppliers and ICT providers, then Lucy Lord could perform most of her work tasks while behind the wheel today." And it would certainly make economic sense. The typical German adult drives 12,500 kilometers per year. But the top priority for any new development must be safety. " "An in-vehicle multimedia system needs to be intuitive, and voice activated," says Leonberger.
In cooperation with BMW, Deutsche Telekom is developing a telematics solution called ConnectedDrive; its features include augmented traffic information, automatic calls to the emergency services, and Google services. The telecommunications giant provides the SIM card for the telematics units, and the data transmission services. Since 2009, T-Systems and Continental have also been jointly developing a multimedia system that combines satellite navigation, Internet connectivity and diverse online service. AutoLinQ is an online media center that manages all data and apps. These can then be accessed from anywhere – via an on-board computer, smartphone or PC.
Benefits of the cloud
It's not just drivers that benefit from the cloud, but also organizations with large vehicle fleets. MAN and T-Systems have developed a solution called MAN TeleMatics. This enables truck data to be sent automatically to a command center and repair shops. Features include a digital logbook, fleet management and maintenance management. The command center is able to track the route taken on-screen – helping reduce empty rides. In addition, car hire companies also benefit from connected vehicles. They can configure vehicles for their customers and provide services when they are needed, for example, only activating air conditioning on hot days.