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BMW’s vision for a world of connected cars

Brandon Butler | May 24, 2016
Cars will connect to your smartphone, drive themselves and be at your beck and call.

As you’re brushing your teeth in the morning you monitor a digital display mirror that shows all your relevant information for the day: Schedule of appointments, weather and battery levels of all your devices, including your phone and BMW i3 electric car in the garage.

As you walk into your kitchen and turn on your coffee machine, that’s the cue your car has been waiting for to turn itself on and begin to warm up. Time to go: With a swipe on your touch-enabled car key, the vehicle detaches from its charging unit, pulls out of the garage and up to your front door. It’s already calculated the best route to your first appointment, taking into account traffic and weather.

While driving the car detects other vehicles on the roadway and communicates with them, staying the perfect distance away for safety and efficiency. Each passing car relays its coordinates, which your car analyzes to calculate the threat of a crash potential. On uphill climbs that the car has identified in its three-dimensional topographical navigation system, the car devotes additional electric power to the engine to help conserve gasoline. At the crest of the hill, the battery power turns off so that it’s ready to regenerate during braking on the downhill descent.

At your appointment the car finds a parking spot and pulls in. From inside the meeting you double check your phone to ensure the car was locked safely. When you’re ready to go home, the car pulls out of its spot, drives home, re-parks in the garage and plugs back in to charge up.

This is the future vision outlined by auto manufacturers such as BMW. It’s a world of connected cars, homes and gadgets and it’s a vision of the Internet of Things in the auto industry. But making that dream a reality will take continued innovation. Everything from cloud-based platforms integrating systems together to new applications being built to power the systems will need to be developed.

Connected cars today

The connected car is already a reality. General Motors was the first to introduce a telematics system in the 1990s with the introduction of OnStar, which allowed drivers to call for roadside assistance from their vehicle. Since then the market has exploded with connected car features and experts say it’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Market intelligence firm Parks Associates estimates that 30% of car owners can connect their phone to their car to make phone calls. Almost all new cars offer connectivity with at least phones, and usually external Internet services at least as an option.

“We’re moving past the early adopter phase of connected cars,” says Jennifer Kent, a director at Parks. “Most of the usage is still core to the driving experience: Mapping and navigation, maintenance information and safety features.”


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