The internet of things (IoT) is already providing benefits to drivers in the form of sophisticated entertainment systems. It’s become common practice to connect mobile phones to smart radios for music or navigation, and many cars have built-in voice recognition software. But IoT technology offers many more applications to the automotive sector. Following are some examples.
Semi-autonomous vehicles and safer roads. While we’re far from the totally driverless stage of car development, vehicle automation has come a long way. Semi-autonomous vehicles use proximity sensors and cameras to assist drivers with parking, lane changing, braking and many other driving functions. Such systems can even take over partial control of the vehicle in emergencies, and IoT technologies can detect collisions and automatically contact emergency services with location details.
Because most road accidents are due to human error, the widespread use of this technology should result in much safer roads. IoT devices can even monitor driving habits and suggest alterations to the driver, resulting in smarter drivers as well as smarter vehicles.
Reduced traffic congestion. IoT technology can be used by traffic operators to reduce congestion in cities. In conjunction with IoT-enabled road signs, they’ll be able to coordinate and divert traffic to avoid congested routes.
While many use navigation technology (which often has real-time traffic updates) when travelling, drivers tend to rely on their own knowledge when in familiar places, such as during the daily work commute. As such, IoT-enabled traffic control has the potential to significantly alleviate city-based congestion caused by rush hours.
Easier parking. Drivers looking for parking often must do a few loops before they find a space, wasting time, increasing emissions and adding to congestion. “Smart parking” IoT technology can help motorists park more quickly and without fuss.
Smart-parking platforms such as that of U.S.-based ParqEx connect drivers looking for parking spaces with nearby privately owned garages that have free space. Payment can be completed through the app, and IoT sensors can open the gate once the registered car arrives, without the need for a ticket or worrying about the space being taken.
Automatic payments. Vehicle-to-infrastructure technology allows IoT-equipped cars to connect to upgraded road signs, traffic lights, lane markings and more. The technology also makes possible automatic payments at toll booths and fuel stations, dramatically speeding up processes and reducing queues.
Predictive maintenance. New cars incorporate a greater number of chips and sensors to alert drivers of mechanical and electrical faults, as well as issue pre-emptive warnings for routine maintenance. Light-up icons on the dashboard have been upgraded to full, detailed messages that can report on a huge number of maintenance issues.
IoT technologies provide maintenance details long before they’re required. By gathering performance data and processing it in the cloud, these systems can predict when certain car parts will need replacing or repairing
The widespread use of IoT technology for maintenance means fewer cars breaking down, and drivers asserting more financial control over repairs. If they know well in advance when maintenance will be necessary, they should be able to repair or replace parts before they break. They can also research the most cost-effective options for carrying out the work, rather than having to pay immediately for an unexpected fault.
Fleet management systems. IoT technology offers a range of uses for fleet-management companies. The entire fleet can be fitted with trackers which allow the company to locate any of its vehicles at any time. The data can be used to analyze route efficiency and traffic conditions.
Fleet companies can make use of IoT monitoring technology to improve the driving standards of their employees. Speeding, idling and braking habits can all be tracked and reported back to the driver or company.
IoT technology can also support weight management and cargo-volume tracking, and there are even sensors that can monitor and automatically adjust the temperature inside the trailer to protect sensitive cargo such as foodstuffs.
While applications of IoT in the automotive industry are already impressive, it won’t be long before we see even more advanced technology, and perhaps even full vehicle automation.
Chris Parr is a product manager at Easby Electronics, a global supplier of electronic components.