Seven Connected Car Technologies Auto Manufacturers Should Watch For

Industry forecasts suggest more than 92 million vehicles with Internet connectivity will be on the road by 2016. But which areas are advancing the fastest, and what are the implications for engineers developing tomorrow's in-car networks?

Testing the connected car

1. Mobile integration

There’s still some debate over whether smartphone integration is the best approach to infotainment, or if automotive OEMs would be better off trying to replicate and improve upon mobile technology.

Apple's CarPlay could soon provide media streaming for a large proportion of in-car entertainment systems, while manufacturers like GM are embracing mobile apps as a legitimate adjunct to in-built navigation systems. This means that engineers will not only need to test their own systems, but confirm proper function using a range of third party hardware and software … no small task.

Whichever approach OEMs take, the focus will be on user experience—so validation will be key—much as it has become for mobile service providers—and products like Tweakker can help improve the user experience.

2. Hybrid positioning

Mobile technology alone may not be able to cope with the demands of vehicle positioning. Phones rely heavily on GNSS, like GPS, whereas the emerging generation of hybrid, in-vehicle systems combine satellite signals, cellular network positioning and the vehicle's sensory data—offering enhanced accuracy and availability when satellite coverage is unavailable. For more details, check out our eBook on Hybrid Positioning.

3. Two-way communications

Until now, one-way communication (X2Car) such as GNSS and RDS has been the norm. However, with the advent of Car2X and Car2Car communications, vehicles can now communicate with each other and with other roadside infrastructure. This presents both new opportunities and new challenges. Systems must ensure multiple sources of information are prioritised effectively, and cover potential security vulnerabilities from new network access points.

4. Safety-critical systems

As the connected car get more sophisticated, systems like assisted driving technologies, advance warnings and eCall are become central to a driver safety. This clearly means a significant step up for network testing and verification regimes, including, for example, the careful simulation of scenarios requiring eCall use.

5. BroadR-Reach® Ethernet

The increasing use of OPEN Alliance 100Mbit/s BroadR-Reach® (OABR) Ethernet offers significant benefits—it's a mature standard with greater bandwidth, and is a lot lighter (and less expensive) than copper wire. But integrating OABR brings its own challenges—ensuring protocol conformance, network security, and consistent performance—and these challenges must be tested thoroughly if the industry is to realise the full benefits of the new standard.

6. Network security risks

Firewalls, domain separation, and domain prioritisation will all play a far bigger role in the automotive sector; as smarter vehicles become a tempting target for viruses, hackers and other risks.

The potential for hacking, whether via Wi-Fi, cellular, or the service port, will become a real issue. And it will only multiply as the increased use of Ethernet exposes vehicle systems to a far more widespread set of hacking techniques.

7. Data protection

This is new ground for automotive engineers at the sharp end of in-vehicle systems. But giving vehicles exciting new abilities to remotely exchange data with insurers, manufacturers, garages and mechanics, automatically pay for tolls and parking, and check-in with social networks is not just a technical challenge. There are legal issues governing the sharing of recorded data with third parties, and care must be taken to avoid reputation-damaging leaks.

Connected car

Ultimately, automotive manufacturers introducing ground-breaking technology have always needed to convince customers and legislators alike that their vehicles are unfailingly safe, reliable and resistant to attack. The connected car is no different.

It's an exciting time for auto manufacturers, and Spirent is partnering with automotive technology developers to establish the testing and verification regimes they need.

What do you think of these technology innovations? Are you seeing something else? Join the discussion on LinkedIn. Or leave a comment below.

Spirent’s latest white paper titled “What’s Driving the Connected Car” explores the latest technologies in connected cars and what that means for automotive developers.

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