Looking at a bright future for telematics after eCall

Long promised, very often delayed, deployment of the European eCall system is scheduled for April 2018, after which all new cars sold in Europe must be factory-equipped with the technology to enable vehicles to make emergency roadside calls. Mandating connectivity for eCall was seen as an ideal means to rapidly increase the number of connected vehicles on the world’s roads and, collaterally, expand the suite of associated telematics services but the many delays of eCall rollout also delayed those plans.

James Hodgson, industry analyst at ABI Research, says: “eCall is one of the best examples of bureaucratic inefficiency but it does have the potential to speed up the connection of vehicles and that will enable more forward-looking services and solutions beyond obstacle detection and collision avoidance.” Hodgson believes the next big use case for telematics technology will be “a real expansion of car-to-cloud enabled services, a car-to-cloud-to-car approach in which data is captured by the entire vehicle fleet on the road, is sent to the cloud and disseminated as useful services to vehicle users.”

This will be owing to the increase of connected cars after eCall is deployed in conjunction with more cars being equipped with sensors, cameras and radar for safety purposes, particularly in ADAS systems. “Industry in the US and EU is readying itself for this rapid increase in ADAS adoption and vehicle connectivity,” Hodgson says. “The forthcoming rapid increase in connectivity, in conjunction with the trend of cars to be fitted with an increasing number of sensors, allows us to move beyond just cloud-to-car services and into car-to-cloud services.”

These services will include real-time traffic data; weather data as provided, for example, by cameras or sensors in windshield wipers; road hazard data, such as ice or accidents, conveyed by brake-system sensors; and even the availability of parking spaces. Carmakers, such as Ford and Mercedes, are currently developing such a service using ultra-sound sensors and an in-car digital parking map. The sensors would detect spaces large enough to fit vehicles and transmit their location via the cloud to the parking maps in individual cars linked to the same platform.

Hodgson went on to say that there are other catalysts in the market that will drive growth of this service, such as the SENSORIS universal data standard developed by HERE and since submitted to ERTICO. SENSORIS will enable standardisation across brands.

“HERE’s connected car services are available to all OEMs, not just those who contribute data, although they can do so in exchange for a discount,” he explains. “BMW, Audi and Mercedes already contribute data to HERE’s connected services. Itmeans you can build up that critical mass faster.”

According to Benoit Tournier, marketing and business development director at Sierra Wireless, the growth of car-sharing services, offered by car-makers and private car-sharing companies, may be the next important use case for telematics.

Currently, he says, only about 200,000 out of the estimated 100 million connected cars in the world are dedicated to pure car-sharing. “However, what I see is that car-sharing is more and more part of the strategy of the car-OEM. Car-OEMs are thinking about repositioning, no longer being exclusively car vendors, but more and more being mobility service providers.”

Tournier notes that carmakers such as Daimler, VW and BMW are now looking to put more of their cars at the disposal of their customers, to book and pick up virtually anywhere, as a seamless mobility service. “The vision of the car-OEM is to put car-sharing increasingly into the DNA of the car,” he says. “Mobility services is one part of this vision; the other part is peer-to-peer car-sharing.”

Peer-to-peer would consist of selling their cars to individuals who do not want to have their automobile sit idle. “About 99% of the time, our cars sit unused, so it’s not an efficient investment,” Tournier explains. “But if the car is ready for car-sharing when purchased, it could be considered an investment by the car-owner, and the telematics for the service will be factory-fitted.”

There are companies today that offer peer-to-peer car-sharing, such as Koolicar. “This requires the installation of a reliable telematics device in the car, which will be able to connect from anywhere,” Tournier explains. If you want to share your car through this company, they will install the device in your car free of charge.

 “This connects to the door opening system, the car’s ignition and to the Koolicar cloud,” Tournier says. “If a subscriber wants to use your car, Koolicar will send a message to your car with the ID of the booking. The subscriber can then open the car with his NFC card or NFC smartphone and start the car with the key, which is already in the car.”

This, however, requires a considerable investment by the company, since it installs the device for free. In the future, peer-to-peer car-sharing companies will operate fleets of vehicles with factory-embedded telematics, and the service will be offered by carmakers via an open API.

“They will license access to their cloud for peer-to-peer car-sharing service providers such as Koolicar,” Tournier says. “And this will unlock the car-sharing market, because it will remove the barrier of entry, the cost, and will allow a car owner to make a real investment when they buy the car and we consumers will be able to own a car and provide a mobility service as well.”



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