Posted by: Steve Schwinke On April 22, 2020.

The ‘North Stars’ for the Connected Vehicle

I started my career designing embedded cellular phones for vehicles and by 1994 a few OEMs were beginning the journey of adding safety and security as part of the embedded phone by incorporating GPS technology with airbag deployment detection. During those early days there wasn’t much of a roadmap beyond safety and security services, but it was evident that the connected vehicle would continue to be an important and differentiating feature for vehicle purchase consideration.

The core promise of safety services was that life happens in your vehicle and they would be there when help was needed the most. The connected vehicle started as a premium offering available only on luxury brands, now after about a quarter-century the Connected Vehicle is quickly becoming standard globally across all makes and models offering a wide range of service offerings.

Products and Services powered through a Connected Vehicle are numerous

Connected Infotainment is now one of the most important features for a new car purchase, along with the Styling, Cargo Space and Fuel Economy. Connected Infotainment is going through massive changes and upgrades with new entrants like Google Automotive Services, while Android Auto and Apple Car play are now becoming the expected features in a vehicle.

With the emergence of connected infotainment, the cost of the off-board services like navigation, streaming music and voice recognition can add-up quickly. New car buyers are also using the Wi-Fi hotspot in the vehicles to deliver content into their tablets and there is a renewed interest in the rear-seat entertainment with DRM capabilities to download, play and store from a variety of content providers.

The technology, business models and feature offerings of a connected vehicle and connected infotainment are fascinating and can lead to a never-ending discussion and debate. OEMs will struggle while considering how to prioritize and deliver new capabilities, as well as the integration of new usage models brought about by ride- and vehicle-sharing, and Level 4 Vehicle Autonomy.

The future is complex and rapidly evolving just like the entire transportation industry. Making decisions regarding priorities delivering the intended impact on the customer expectations and revenue generation is not easy and may fall short of expectations. Fortunately, there are some underlying truths on the approach that will have a very broad impact and will undeniably lead to real return on the connected vehicle investment:

  • Vehicle Data - Internal Use Cases
  • Building future enablers not just features
  • Clear leadership and accountability for the entire connected vehicle ecosystem

Vehicle Data

The data value created by the connected vehicle is broken down into two simple constructs of internal and external use cases. The external use cases like Usage-Based Insurance and Fleet Management are well proven and most often discussed but, unfortunately cause many companies to overlook the millions of dollars of opportunity available from connected data to improve Quality, Manufacturing and Design.

We have been constantly hearing that data is the new oil. When it comes to Vehicle data, it is the crude oil that is not very useful in its raw form, but when refined it gives in crucial insights and is very much essential to power the engine of innovation.

Vehicles generate terabytes of data daily, but almost all of which has limited worth, and is very repetitive. To reduce overhead and optimize investment return, the key is to have contextual understanding of the systemic operational environment and design measurement collection approaches that only deliver the information that has business or product development value. There are real costs involved in capturing and storing data, and most of the organizations are getting bogged down with having too much of it in hand. The approach needs to be laser-focused on consuming the data that is necessary for decision-making and expedient distribution to concerned authorities and right teams.

The opportunity to acquire Vehicle behavioral performance data has been a staple of the Automotive Digital Twin movement for a long time. Leveraging operational data to detect quality issues in just hours, helps during field issue investigation for root cause, and the avoidance of unintended consequences during subsequent closed-loop activities to implement corrective measures. OEMs and Tier-1 suppliers should be designing components and systems with the understanding that they will have access to performance data throughout a Product Life Cycle. These manufacturers and suppliers can then use the information to compare against previously defined performance, usage, and output requirements of their products. Simply stated, collecting this vehicle data helps not only to understand the system interactions that occur during design, development, and fleet testing; but also, to gauge the actual customer usage and get them to be an integral part of a continuous feedback loop in the pursuit of perfection. Moreover, in situations where vehicle issues are not detected early, the collected field vehicle data can be used to identify and rectify only the smaller subset of platforms that exhibit the symptoms, while avoiding the cost and customer inconvenience being incurred for the entire model year.


“Focus on the Enablers”


About The Author

Steve Schwinke, Global Head for Connected Vehicles

Steven is a recognized expert in Connected Vehicle Technology. Having spent over 22 years in the automotive sector, he was elected to the Executive Board of Directors of the Telecommunication Industry Association. Steven has helped develop many of the industry first products and services, and has been awarded 30 patents involving telecommunications, telematics and navigation. Steven holds a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering degree from the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor) and Master of Science in Wireless Communication Systems degree from Santa Clara University.