Every year, reputable sources write lists of the hottest technology trends in the automotive industry. With 16 years of software development experience and deep automotive expertise, Intellias is one of the companies that carefully prepare pieces like this with great pleasure. This year isn’t an exception. Here’s the Intellias list of automotive tech trends in 2019.
Reaching level 3 automation won’t flood the roads with autonomous vehicles
There are no clear signs that we’ll see driving automation above level 3 among the top automotive trends in 2019. No particular legal frameworks and technical requirements have been developed in the past year. Autonomous cars continue to be vulnerable to cyberattacks. And the driving environment still lacks smart traffic regulation and monitoring.
While major manufacturers including GM, Ford, Honda, Toyota, and Volvo claim that they plan to catch up with the latest technology trends in the automotive industry and launch self-driving cars next year, we won’t be surprised if they don’t. It’s more realistic to suggest that we’ll reach level 4 and 5 autonomy in passenger cars no sooner than the 2030s to 2040s.
Estimated global installed base of cars with self-driving features
If a miracle does happen and a fully autonomous vehicle hits the roads, these roads won’t be in urban areas. They’ll be somewhere in a geofenced area and for commercial use only. The main reason for this is the high cost. Complex, smart, and autonomous, these vehicles are going to be very expensive for individual use. Manufacturers should probably start with autonomous shuttle buses between airport terminals and buses for picking up passengers from boarding gates and planes.
Imagine this: One day you arrive at the airport. You take a shuttle bus to the parking lot where you left your car as the app remembered where you parked on arrival. After leaving the bus, you realize that there was no driver inside and the bus was driving all by itself. Still, it operates within a geofenced road, which is quite controlled, and the speed is relatively slow, near 40 km/h (25 mph). This is a likely scenario of how autonomous vehicles will arrive gradually. First, they will be slower-moving vehicles in specific limited areas, and it will not happen in the middle of London, Berlin, or New York.
Even the coolest connectivity features won’t convince people to spend a fortune on them
People love fancy connected services. But not paying for them. The high-tech features of connected cars have long been among the best and most anticipated future trends in the automotive industry. But it hasn’t turned out quite the way many OEMs had hoped.
Connected car features with high appeal
There’s no way people will pay an extra $20,000 for lavish connectivity features. A report by PwC’s Strategy suggests that customers aren’t ready to pay more than 10 to 15 percent of the total price of a car for these features. That’s no more than $10,000.
For companies that develop self-driving systems, it is important to distinguish between personal vehicles and those for commercial use. People will not pay an additional $20,000 for fully self-driving features in their cars. But for airports, as an example, when a vehicle starts driving 24/7 all by itself it saves a lot of costs and eliminates tedious night shifts with limited passengers. So commercial organizations can invest much more in such technology than private users will.
When it comes to actually paying for additional features, people tend to lower their appetites for embedded connectivity and skip on the maximum configurations. Here’s the bitter truth: today, manufacturers have no idea how to sell the premium pricing of telematics solutions for vehicle connectivity.
OEMs switching to the cloud will be a significant automotive tech trend in 2019. Only the basic range of sensors will be kept on board. Collecting and relaying data about traffic, the driving environment, climate conditions, and other critical information should be the main focus, not wowing your customers with the futuristic look of the car. OEMs need to continue doing what they’re supposed to do — learn more about human behavior and teach their connected cars to spread collected data.
Cars of the future need to adapt more to humans
It may sound ironic, but in the smart digital automotive world, being more human is the key to a manufacturer’s growth and success. While chasing the latest tech trends in the automobile industry, OEMs need to think of convenience and the driving experience rather than just the rate of innovation.
The rate of innovation across all technological trends in the automobile industry is fierce. But stuffing cars with advanced features won’t make OEMs successful. Here’s a piece of advice: recognize user needs and align them with the company’s strengths. A better user experience should be your differentiating factor, not wacky technology.
The big issue is that people are afraid of being in vehicles where they cannot exercise some control. For these [autonomous vehicles] to be a success, people can’t get in the car and feel like they don’t know what to do.
People don’t want an autonomous car to look like a jet cockpit with dozens of flashing buttons. OEMs need to think of adjusting artificial intelligence to human behavior and not vice versa.
In contrast to the surge for high technology we will also need to bring more humanity into the vehicles and enable them to communicate with us like in the old days. Imagine you run out of battery on your smartphone at the end of a day. How are you going to get home in an autonomous taxi? You will have to fall back on the more traditional methods: hail a taxi by standing on the edge of the sidewalk and raising your arm. Cameras on board of vehicles will need to interpret this as a need for mobility and send an autonomous taxi to you. Once it is in front of you, you will be able to express your desire to it thanks to its microphones and voice interpretation software. The mobility service can then bring you to your destination. And if you happen to be a foreign tourist, no worries. The software will handle all foreign languages through server connections. I believe these kinds of features will accelerate the adoption of autonomous driving technology.
Your car needs to know you as well as Google does
Google knows pretty much everything about you, including when you’re throwing a birthday party and what you usually do on a Friday night. Your autonomous vehicle should too. Only with an abundance of data will AVs be intelligent enough to fit a particular user and interact with a complicated environment.
Driving is a social process that often involves complex interactions with other drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists, and that’s increasingly challenging. In many everyday traffic situations, humans rely on common sense and generalized knowledge. Cars can’t do that. They have to derive data from all possible sources to become less reliant on human management.
A connected car should know in advance who is behind a tree and prepare how to act. At the moment, you will not get this data within a car from your camera, lidar, or radar sensors. Above all, V2I connectivity steps in big here, as infrastructure knows as much as data providers like Google know about you. They may track pedestrians everywhere by their phones and provide this data to a car to see each person near the road. All of this data together could give a shot for autonomous driving and save millions of lives.
Talking about data sources, Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X) connectivity is one of the automotive tech trends worth investment in 2019. Talking to and receiving data from infrastructure, other vehicles, pedestrians, and cyclists as well as data centers through cellular networks will be one of the main tasks of autonomous vehicles. In this way, cars will have access to as much data as they can handle. And by sending it to the cloud, vehicles will become another element of the connected infrastructure.
Four terabytes is the estimated amount of data that an autonomous car will generate and consume in about an hour and a half of driving.
Shared mobility gains ground among future trends in the automotive industry
There’s a big chance that the Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) concept will stand out among the automotive tech trends in 2019.
By 2030, autonomous vehicles will provide 95% of all US passenger miles of travel. Those miles will all be in shared vehicles, rather than in personally owned AVs.
Autonomous shared cars will be of immense help to people who can’t drive because of physical or age restrictions. And they will be able to cover even the least inhabited areas with small, targeted fleets.
The car as a means of transportation doesn’t necessarily need to belong to you. Car sharing and mobility as a service will become ever more present in our society. Today’s fashion for design and trendy colors might fade away to make place for simple shapes and cheap paints like we see on today’s trams, trains, and buses. However, there will be more attention for comfort and safety inside. Air conditioning, sound capsules, luxury seating, working space, the availability of a large screen and keyboard and mouse may one day matter more to us than the design of the rims.
The broader use of shared mobility with autonomous vehicles will lead to decreased traffic, pollution, and travel time. No wonder car manufacturing titans are exploring this idea. Ford, for example, has made numerous statements about launching ride-hailing services. BMW also tries to showcase shared mobility as a pathway to autonomous riding. And, of course, Waymo and Uber are promoting car sharing among the top technology trends in the automotive industry.
Consumer surveys indicate continued growth potential for shared mobility
The bottom line
The year 2019 might not be the most exciting for the automotive industry, but you know what they say: slow and steady wins the race. Technology is all about hard work, research, and development. The world isn’t ready for autonomous vehicles. Not yet. Vehicles will hardly reach higher than level 3 automation, but ubiquitous connectivity concepts like V2X can help cars adapt to humans. OEMs will need to pay even more attention to personalization, rethinking the connected car from the customer’s point of view. And while they invest a lot in developing fancy features for the cars of the future, OEMs should focus on essential functionality and data processing.
At Intellias, we’re working on several impressive projects that are pushing the latest automotive trends in Europe and the USA. Want to know more? Contact us to chat with one of our leading automotive experts.