A connected car is a vehicle that is connected to the internet and usually has a wireless local area network. This allows it to share internet access with other devices both inside and outside the vehicle. Typically the car contains special technologies that provide additional benefits to the driver via internet connection.
In a recent example, vehicle manufacturers have built intelligent crash-detection systems which know by measuring decelerating forces how large and how many impacts have taken place, how many airbags deployed, etc. so the system can alert the emergency services and provide information on the number of occupants and the likely severity of injuries. This could help the emergency services be more efficiently deployed and be better equipped to deal with the accident, potentially saving lives.
Typically, a connected car made after 2010 has a head-unit, in car entertainment unit and in-dash touch-screen. Typical functions include in-car Hi-Fi, smartphone apps, navigation, roadside assistance, voice commands, contextual help, parking apps, engine controls, vehicle tracking and car diagnosis.
The car has become, perhaps, the ultimate mobile accessory, but unlike most other accessories, the car operates in an inherently dangerous environment. This means that the functionality, operation and reliability of in-car systems must make vehicles safer and easier to use. This is not necessarily the case as some apps can be distracting for a driver and can even be frustrating if they fail to operate properly (think of a Sat Nav losing its GPS signal and failing to give directions).
However, if designed well and implemented appropriately, then the connected car is the inevitable extension of our always-on, fully integrated digital world. I personally question the need for such extensive and invasive use of technology, but I cannot fault the logic in automotive manufacturers looking to this technology to give them a competitive edge. In the end the market will decide what it wants, and who knows, maybe fully autonomous vehicles really are the dream of the commuter?
The increasing number of wireless technologies inside something that operates in such an inherently dangerous environment means that safety and certification standards are naturally also evolving to ensure driver, passenger and road user safety.
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