Here we are, nearly at the end of 2015, and we still don't have flying cars. But what we do have are connected cars, and that technological advance has the potential to yield all new insights and solutions. Thanks to the combination of connected cars, analytic engines and the cloud, real-time data and real-time solutions are now possible.
A recent global study on connected car consumers from AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) Drive Studio and Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) found that the features of a connected car are becoming increasingly important to those in the market for a new car. The two companies are partners in advancing the connected experience on wheels with AT&T Drive providing the connectivity and Ericsson providing a secured cloud platform.
However, Orvar Hurtig, vice president of Ericsson Global Services and Head of Industry and Society at Ericsson, pointed out that the connected advantage is not limited to "infotainment" features. It also enables over-the-air software updates and advanced downloadable engine configurations, features that can have significant impact driving experience for years after they purchase a connected car.
That's not just a vision for the future but something that is in use now by companies like Navistar, manufacturer of commercial trucks, buses and defense vehicles. In an interview, Terry Kline, SVP and chief information officer at Navistar, explained over the phone that his company takes in and analyzes 20 million records each day through Amazon Web Services. That's the sum of information on location, behavior and health of over 150,000 different trucks.
The advantages of the connections are not just about getting the data and predictive analytics but actually getting solutions delivered directly. As a result, Navistar can deliver "over the air programming" which means new software can be installed on the engine control module via WiFi. That type of remote programming allows Navistar to recalibrate the engine for better fuel economy that matches up with a change in route or the style of a different driver.
Navistar built its analytics data base on information that comes in from over a dozen telematics providers. Telematics has grown tremendously over the past ten years, expanding from basic location to help find stolen cars and behavior data of concern to insurance companies to far more sophisticated data that allows the car to be diagnosed.
To find out more about advances in the telematics field, I spoke with Nino Tarantino, CEO of Octo Telematics North America.
Octo Telematics manages 4 million cars across the globe and has more than 120 billion miles of driving data. "We are all about data," Tarantino says. The company's scalable solution makes it possible to increase the number of servers to accommodate the expansion of data and analytics. Tarantino explained that the data coming in from the car can be even more revealing when it is associated with external data such as weather, traffic and points of interest along the way. That form of "data enrichment" yields far more insight and potential applications, he adds.
To that end, Octo Telematics and IBM announced in October that they would work together to apply The Weather Company's weather API through IBM Insight Cloud Services to driver data. This combination of real-time data on the environment with telematics in the car yields a far more comprehensive picture than looking at the driver behavior in isolation.
Though its primary business revolves around providing insight to insurance companies, the data is also useful for insight on traffic patterns and effects on air quality, as well as more efficient fleet management.
This is the type of combination of data that Navistar uses to optimize the routes for its trucks. Using what it calls "environmental trucking," it applies mobile data on real-time traffic conditions; weather; and a map of truck stops, lodging, etc., en route. Making all that information available to the driver allows him or her to optimize the route and make better time on deliveries -- all of which add up to better business results.
In addition, mobile notifications also make drivers safer by making them aware of troubling diagnostics from the vehicle diagnostic system, and when to take the vehicle in for service. Combining information from the car itself with contextual data on where to find a dealer increases efficiency and reduces the possibility of a driver finding themselves stranded on the road with a serious problem that poses a hazardous situation.
— Ariella Brown, Freelance Contributor, special to The New IP