When it comes to how we use vehicles, we’re fast approaching a fork in the road: a big, digital-society-sized diversion caused by changing consumer expectations for highly personalized, intuitive, and completely connected devices. Why should drivers be happy with an in-car infotainment system that’s more complicated but less capable than their smartphone? Or one that needs booking into a garage for repair when their home computer can easily be fixed remotely?

As technologically advanced as most vehicles on the road are today, they still lag behind the other aspects of our digitally connected, everyday lives.

Some estimate that this user demand will create a global ‘Internet of Cars’ (‘IoC’), comprising 380 million connected vehicles by 2021; a figure founded on trends already established with enterprise IoT.

Enterprise IoT v. IoC
Think about the modern car as a well-established, non-IoT business. No matter how evolved it has become, it remains a very siloed entity: most modern cars have up to 100 ECUs, each a microcontroller for just one aspect of the car’s performance. In other words, it’s too customized – too ‘legacy’. IoC vehicles, on the other hand, are like lean, mean digital startups and enterprise IoT – the digital future in other words.

Digitally transforming the car – a long journey?

As with most journeys of digital transformation, success can be achieved incrementally rather than taking a Tesla risk and going all-in at once.

Simplicity is a key step, exchanging over 100 ECUs and mechanical sensors for fewer than eight microprocessors, with smart sensors and actuators fully integrated, as a centralized service-oriented architecture for the entire vehicle. This is crucial not just for better handling performance, but also the huge amounts of data produced.

A technical difference but also a mindset change: this makes it much easier to add and improve app functionality. It also creates a readymade collaborative environment – important as automotives will need to work more and more with third-party software OEMs to drive new value.

Keeping the engine (and the app) running
With an increase of in-vehicle apps, reliability is crucial. An app problem, by its very nature, must be fixable remotely (and in near real-time). How far can we apply this to a vehicle, which is a mechanical platform with relatively fixed, longer-term service schedules?

The simple answer is a long way, especially in this service-oriented context.

The extended vehicle is a hub for apps, one that is centralized around the car itself rather than just a single component. If, for example, a driver experiences a broken electric window, the extended vehicle concept would allow for remote diagnostics and, if the problem is software-related, an ‘over-the-air’ repair. This data can be used for ongoing development and production – to keep increasing product and therefore service quality.

This approach can be extended to predictive maintenance and functional safety as well, with a complete view of vehicle performance. This equals better efficiency and better service too – as well as enhanced after-sales support and agile fleet management as well.

The automobile-as-a-service
Linked to this is the autonomous vehicle (covered in more depth in another blog), which will clearly be affected by similar trends. Initially, there will be drive-and-drop cars ready and waiting on every street, with quick and easy payment via an individual’s user profile for the convenience of an instant vehicle without the complications of car ownership.

Taking autonomy to its fullest extent, driverless cars will usher in a new level of the shared economy in a way that will support the globalization of cities (playing a part in getting people to and from airports and their next global destination as quickly and seamlessly as possible).

The opportunities with the extended vehicle are vast and multifaceted. They can also be developed incrementally as automotives engage with the third-party digital ecosystem to perfect big data, cyber-security, and vehicle autonomy.

However with such developments there come associated risks, which we cover briefly in the next section.

What are the security implications?
When it comes to the security of connected cars, there’s certainly enough doom-mongering. It’s an obvious target for hackers. End of story.

After all, there are security implications whenever you connect a new device to a network, whether it’s a bank of computers or a car. Hackers could manipulate entry points to the car, service history and maintenance records, perhaps even the performance.

But cybersecurity is a major industry in itself now and there are organizations, such as our own, that have deep expertise in both cybersecurity and automotive. Investment will come from organizations in other sectors with vested interests in the safety and security of vehicles on our highways. Insurance firms are a good example as minimizing theft and accidents will greatly impact risk.

Data, data everywhere…
The IoC will make the extended vehicle a datacenter on wheels – creating, sharing, and adapting to myriad data streams on every journey. A big part of this pool of insight will come from the drivers and passengers themselves, allowing the extended vehicle to deliver a highly personalized experience with the driving experience tailored to journey, music, and comfort preferences.

This user profile approach to connected cars will be central to its success but there are clear implications of data ownership – manufacturers must manage the risk of third-party providers in the collaborative extended vehicle environment to protect its customers’ personal data. And data ownership itself is another challenge. In China, all data is the preserve of the government, while in Europe and North America, personal data is just that: owned by the individual. These are the types of implication which Automotives and their partners will need to build in to every data-driven service they provide.

If you’d like to find out more about Luxoft Extended Vehicle, visit our homepage, contact one of our experts, or check out our virtual magazine on the latest, greatest trends in automotive IT.

Watch the interview with Michael Bykov and learn more about the latest trends in Automotive: