The technology of connected cars, vehicles and fleets
The evolution of digital technology is impacting the world of transportation and fleet management. New and innovative systems are connecting our world through the Internet of Things (IoT) and in the context of transportation, this means connected vehicles. Soon, all new vehicles will come with Wi-Fi internet access as standard from car manufacturers.
The potential growth of the European connected vehicle industry is staggering. From 2018-2023, the market as a whole is expected to reach a value of USD 30.44 billion, expanding at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7%. More specifically, Europe’s connected passenger car market is expected to reach USD 17.10 billion by 2023, at a CAGR of 3%. The European connected truck market is likely to follow a similar pattern, expanding at a CAGR of 12%, and reaching a total of USD 13.33 billion by 2023. Globally, estimations suggest that the connected car market will reach USD 142.49 billion by 2026, at a CAGR of 16.4%.
These estimations highlight the importance of new technologies to the automotive industry. Let’s take a closer look at what a connected vehicle is and how being connected can benefit fleet-dependent organisations.
What is a connected vehicle?
Essentially, a connected vehicle is any vehicle with an internet connection. However, to function properly as a connected car, truck or van, the vehicle must also have an internet-enabled device and corresponding software applications. Data transmission from the engine, chassis and electronics to a vehicle tracking device must also be possible. Then, the data is sent to a central processing centre or to the driver’s smartphone.
Vehicle connectivity relies on a mix of built-in and aftermarket technologies. Most modern commercial vehicles come equipped with embedded software devices that pair with built-in products. These tie into a central data management system.
Connected vehicle technology: V2X, V2V & V2I communication
Connected vehicle technology can take different forms, all of which can be utilised in commercial transportation businesses. The three main types of vehicle communication are V2V, V2I and V2X. Let’s have a look at these in detail to understand what they are and how they work.
V2V refers to smart technology that allows for data exchange from one vehicle to another, with the aim to help reduce accidents and traffic congestion. It does this by using dedicated short-range communications (300 metres, or 328 yards), which allows connected vehicles to access information about other nearby V2V-enabled vehicles. This information can include the speed and position of surrounding vehicles, which is then used to alert drivers of potential dangers. V2V can also detect dangerous traffic and road conditions, terrain issues and weather threats.
V2I technology captures data such as traffic congestion, weather advisories and bridge clearance levels. This wirelessly transmitted data alerts drivers of dangers they need to be aware of, helping to improve safety. V2I also powers smart traffic signals, which help drivers to estimate traffic conditions. This can result in more accurate ETAs and improved communication between drivers and customers.
V2X encompasses both V2V and V2I software. Essentially, V2X technology works to make every automobile on the road smarter by giving them the power to ‘communicate’ with the traffic system, including other connected cars and infrastructure of smart cities. Drivers can receive notifications of hazardous weather conditions, as well as nearby dangerous driving behaviours, accidents and traffic congestion. V2X also automates payments for tolls and parking, making the driving process easier.
These technologies are the future of connected and autonomous vehicles. However, V2V, V2I and V2X will be most effective when every truck, bus, car, motorcycle, and even bicycle, comes with this technology as standard.
Other types of connected vehicle technology
While it’s V2V, V2I and V2X that get all the attention when it comes to connected car technology, there are also other innovations that are being used and developed.
- Vehicle-to-Network (V2N): This enables vehicle-to-vehicle communication over cellular networks, such as LTE.
- Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G): Currently still in development, V2G technology revolves around the idea of using the batteries of electric-powered vehicles as a power source in an electrical grid. The usage would be based on real-time demands for power.
- Brain-to-Vehicle (B2V): Introduced by Nissan, the concept of this technology centres on connecting a driver’s brain to their vehicle. It’s not currently in use, however it could radically change the future of driving and road safety.
- Platooning: In theory, platooning would connect two or more trucks together in convey, in order to lower fuel consumption and Co2 emissions. Automatic braking systems would be implemented to improve safety and increase efficiency.
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The benefits of connected fleets for owners and drivers
Operating a connected fleet can help businesses better serve customers, bolster efficiency, promote safer driving habits and manage a more reliable return on assets and vehicles. Using a telematics-based connectivity system to integrate all fleet vehicles into a data stream helps fleet owners and drivers realise concrete benefits:
Fleet managers can achieve smarter route planning by identifying connected vehicles that are stuck in traffic or those that had to make an unplanned stop. Tracking data also allows for vehicle efficiency analysis, so that fleet managers can schedule optimal routes and gain a deeper understanding of how their assets are performing. This can then lead to more effective dispatching and scheduling across an entire connected fleet.
Data collected from a connected car can help fleet managers verify that their drivers are obeying road laws, taking required breaks, completing paperwork and carrying out necessary safety checks. This collected data can also prove useful in verifying that goods are always transported in the required conditions, for example, within a pre-determined temperature range. Plus, having telematics-based connectivity in place will help prepare trucks and drivers to comply with the digital tachograph requirements.
Vehicle data helps fleet managers to monitor driver performance in a number of key areas. These can include driving style, fuel efficiency, safety and productivity. Back office employees can more readily assign the best driver based on vehicle location and job status data.
Improved safety and maintenance
Connected vehicles can send diagnostic alerts to fleet managers for resolution of maintenance issues in near real-time. In-depth records of a vehicle’s health over time can also be created in order to carry out routine maintenance on a schedule. Connected vehicles can help drivers to stay safe by sending alerts about upcoming hazards such as traffic accidents or dangerous weather. Fleet managers can collate data and use it to identify any driver training programmes that may be needed.
Streamline office functions
A connected fleet can utilise electronic work orders to reduce the time spent catching up on and completing paperwork. Photos and signatures can be uploaded as jobs are completed, with GPS verifying a worker or driver’s location.
The future of connected cars
The next phase of vehicle connectivity will focus on componentisation, defined as connecting all assets and products down to the component level to enable better performance and safer operation of new vehicles. This will allow businesses to reach better fuel efficiency levels and manage performance based on more specific criteria, such as the type of load that is being hauled or the terrain on which the vehicle is being driven.
The impending arrival of universal 5G cellular connectivity also has the potential to greatly impact the communicational capabilities of connected vehicles. Faster transmission of vehicle-related data will help further improve the operational safety and efficiency of every fleet.