Ford Autonomous car

AH Primetime: Autonomous And Connected Cars Are The Future

January 24, 2016 - Written By Alexander Maxham

The car industry is pretty slow, when it comes to tech. Especially if you follow the mobile industry, you’ll notice the auto industry is lagging behind by quite a bit. Part of that is because car makers only make a handful of cars a year, versus smartphone makers. Not to mention that smartphones are much cheaper than cars (well most are), so smartphones get replaced more often than cars. But it does look like cellular connected cars are going to be next, in the evolution of the car. In fact, the next car you buy will likely have connectivity to one of the wireless carriers, built in. Many GM cars (GMC, Chevrolet, Cadillac or Buick) already have connectivity through AT&T. They have also partnered up with a few other car makers, including Audi and Volvo. But why is having a connected car such a big deal? Let’s talk about it.

Having a connected car is great for those long road trips. Allowing your kids or even just other adults in the car, the ability to stream Netflix while driving across the country, is a pretty big deal. And definitely makes those long trips much more enjoyable. It’s also great for streaming music. We all want to listen to our favorite music when we’re driving, and being able to connect to the car’s hotspot is a great feature to be able to take advantage of. On top of that, being connected means that mapping data can be updated more frequently. While Google already does update their maps very frequently, having every car on the roads in the country doing this would make it even better.

When it comes to emergencies, this is where a connected car can help save a life. You may have crashed and be unconscious, but your car still knows exactly where you are. With the airbags deployed, it can instantly call for help and also send your location to the authorities. Talk about being a life saver. This is perhaps the most important reason why having a connected car is important. Of something a bit less extreme, say you ran out of gas, your car can alert AAA to the issue and have someone come out and assist you.

Finally, something that’s been a pretty big topic already in 2016, autonomous driving. And actually, Tesla is already doing this with their Model S. Allowing the car to learn from the streets that you are driving on, and getting better at self-driving, is another pretty important feature here. And being able to send that data to Tesla, or another auto maker, would prove to be a pretty big deal. As well as a huge advancement in terms of self-driving cars. It’ll be incredibly useful with different weather conditions. For example, in the northern part of the States, we often see rain, sleet and snow all at the same time. There’s not much auto makers can do to test that (although Ford is doing so in Ann Arbor, MI), and getting that data to see how the car handled it, and how it can be handled better in the future could be huge for auto makers and their software engineers.

Connected cars haven’t really taken off that much just yet. One reason is because it continues to add on to the already large monthly phone bill that you have with AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile or another carrier. With AT&T charging $10 for you to add your car to your bill each month. However, the features and benefits that it bring to the table, are pretty impressive. Additionally, AT&T has partnered with GM and Ford, and they provide a free trial of their 4G LTE service in brand new cars. So you can literally try it out before you decide to add your brand new car to your account. Between autonomous cars and connected cars, this is definitely the future. Although, Autonomous cars will likely be a bigger step for the auto industry. Especially with Google, GM, Ford and others looking to provide their own ridesharing service. In the next decade, we could see more and more people not buying cars, but relying on these ridesharing services. Like 75% of New Yorkers do in New York City.