Connected and autonomous cars: tech and auto industries need to collaborate

The future for connected vehicles looks promising, with new developments offering drivers more convenience and control, according to a new report from the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

However, the research and analysis division of The Economist Group also said that the “end-game” in connectivity is the self-driving car, and several obstacles must be overcome before these become a familiar sight on our roads.

The challenges range from privacy and security concerns, to a lack of infrastructure, the need for a legislative framework, and issues around congestion and pollution.

What’s more, driverless cars will have to co-exist with driver-powered cars for some time, and they must be sophisticated enough to deal with pedestrians, cyclists, road furniture and other drivers.

The report points out that connected cars are already generating huge amounts of data through on-board infotainment systems, as well as software platforms such as Google’s Android Auto and Apple’s CarPlay systems, which allow smartphone tethering to a vehicle. This, rather than autonomous driving, is the current interpretation of “connectedness”.

Matt Kendall, telecoms analyst at the EIU, said: “In many respects, connected cars are already an embedded part of the current motoring environment, with many vehicles on our roads utilising connectedness in the form of GPS, infotainment and on-board vehicle diagnostics.

“However, the end game for the use of connectedness is the self-driving car, which is able to use connectivity to manoeuvre around, and interact with, its environment. But many obstacles to a fully autonomous future remain, and both the tech and auto industries are going to have to work hard, in a spirit of collaboration, to overcome them.”

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