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Cars Drive Innovation in the Internet of Things. This isn’t Necessarily a Good Thing

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Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot built the first powered vehicle is 1768. It was steam powered. A fellow Frenchman, François Isaac de Rivaz, built a hydrogen powered vehicle with electric ignition in 1808. It wasn’t until 1886 that Karl Benz built the first production vehicles powered by gasoline and the 20th Century that cars became widespread. It’s almost impossible to imagine a world where cars don’t exist and easy to forget how much they have changed over the years.

This crash test, between two cars produced 50 years apart, is a vivid illustration of some of the benefits of innovation in automotive technology in the second half of the 20th Century.

In the 21st Century the pace of change is accelerating even more rapidly.

From SatNav to connected cars and autonomous vehicles, some analysts predict that over 50% of the value of the cars you buy will be in the software they run.

IoT technology is likely to be adopted more rapidly in vehicles than areas such as smart homes – connected homes are still some way off and the killer apps that make them a compelling proposition remain elusive. Most consumers don’t see compelling reasons to IoT enable their houses and household appliances are changed far less frequently than cars (in the UK, the average age of cars is about 6 years old). This means we are likely to see more rapid innovation in cars than in the home.

Not all of it will be ‘good’.

  • Robert Bosch Gmbh’s emission defeating software used by Volkswagen to con consumers into buying cars they believe to be ‘green’ is an obvious example.
  • The remote hacking of a Jeep in the US last year shows why we have a long way to go before we can really feel ‘safe’ in cars that run ‘fly-by-wire’ systems.
  • Even Tesla, a car company that is probably more focused on security than any other on the planet has been hacked.

While overall, technology in cars is likely to makes the population of drivers, passengers and pedestrians safer, there are plenty of challenges to overcome that those early French auto pioneers could not have imagined when they started putting engines on carts.

On a related topic, we’ve just heard that Professor John Miles, Professor of Engineering, Cambridge University will be joining us at the 5th IoT Forum 2016, March 9-10th 2016 to consider some of the upsides of the latest developments in transportation technology.

His research explores the potential to reduce urban emissions through the use of radical alternatives to conventional transport systems. Examples include the introduction of autonomous vehicles, on-demand bus services, and the use of city-wide real-time data to improve travellers’ options and reduce carbon footprints. John will discuss some of the latest innovations that mean cars and transport systems will be an integral part of a network that is better, safer and cheaper for users.

As work starts on testing Elon Musk’s Hyperloop, the future of transport has never been more exciting. What will stop us from seeing fleets of self-driving cars on the roads of Britain in 2018?

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