In the session description for Michael Perugi’s presentation at the Automotive Intelligence Summit (AIS) this summer, one of the takeaways was that “connected vehicles hold promises of transforming from a means of transportation to a smart system doing more than getting to a final destination.”
Perugi, who is the automotive industry strategist/principal consultant at Acxiom, sees that transformation happening in various ways.
“If you take a look at the present form of a vehicle, basically it’s an appliance that provides us a method to transport from A to B,” Perugi said in an interview at AIS, which was held July 24-26 in Raleigh, N.C.
“But as the evolution of the industry and the vehicles take place — I see it’s going to happen in steps of development over the next 12 to 15 years, if you look at autonomous vehicles, amongst everything else — it’s going to provide a number of different applications and methodologies as an extension to complete lifestyle elements that are important to an individual,” he said.
“So, if you think about it, many of these things today are handled by the immediate person who has to perform them.”
Like, for instance, picking up or dropping off family members. Functions like those are and would first be handled by car-sharing for ride-sharing services, but may be “pre-programmed elements” of autonomous cars down the road.
“So, you might say, a similar analogy would be sending your pet to fetch a stick,” he said.
Not only would this evolution make carpooling unnecessary, but it also could become important in the likely scenario there’s an increase in the population needing transport to senior-care facilities.
“You’re going to be needing to travel to a lot of life-caring facilities, which would provide relief from those from a personal- as well as a government-expense standpoint,” Perugi said.
Additionally, he sees this transformation playing out in the sense that “entertainment and other vehicle functions inside the vehicle are going to take a new stance as a passive activity versus the present personal activity.”
Speaking of the latter point on entertainment, Perugi agreed the primary functions of connected vehicles are moving from infotainment to other purposes.
“There are OEMs out there that have certain functional elements such as the intelligent mobility systems that some of them have built in. And then even some of the other OEMs are starting their incubator businesses, which are using alternative technologies for things like parking, among other things,” he said. “So, this is where it’s going to bring us the ideas of where we’re evolving these vehicle functions as we’re heading into an industry that further develops connected and autonomous vehicles.
“So, if you think about it, like any other technology business in development, there’s going to be hits and misses,” Perugi said. “But in all the cases, we’re going to learn more as we move the industry forward.”
Technonolgical development and partnerships will likely lead to even more crossover between the various new services shaping automotive.
Asked where he sees the worlds of things like connected vehicles, autonomous vehicles, ridesharing and carsharing connecting, Perugi said: “Well, in some aspects, they already are. You have a number of new technologies and services that are participating and partnering, both for vehicles, in addition to the buying, selling and using and participation of their uses.
“And these are allowing industries such as financial services, insurance, telematics and their services involved to all converge, while the autonomous vehicle levels — which are hovering right now about at Level 2 — will need to be developed towards the steps of the final Level 5.”
Municipal partnerships important
Moving forward just three years, there will likely be over 190 million connected cars on the road by 2021, according to Statista data cited in an Acxiom infographic recapping a 2017 study it conducted with J.D. Power.
Avis Budget Group alone now has more than 100,000 connected cars in its fleet, the rental company announced in mid-August.
“Connected cars allow Avis customers to manage their entire rental through our app, including locking and unlocking car doors via smartphone. We see a future in which connected cars will know preferred seat position, car temperature, radio presets and more,” said Avis Budget chief innovation officer Arthur Orduña in a news release.
“An example of this is in our Mobility Lab in Kansas City, which aims to enhance travelers’ experiences through our connected cars,” Orduña said. “If a traveler’s phone shows they are interested in baseball, the customer may receive a push notification recommending the city’s acclaimed Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.”
Partnering on connected-car projects — as Kansas City, Mo., has done — can be beneficial for cities, the company said.
Working with Avis Budget gives municipalities like Kansas City “access to connected car data that has been stripped of any identifiable traveler personal information—this could inform smart city planning, like road condition and traffic volume data,” the company said.
“If one of our vehicles hits a pothole on a given route, it’s possible that we map this data based on the car’s geolocation and create a feedback loop with our city partners,” says Orduña. “Connected cars have the potential to be eyes and ears on the ground for city planners seeking data that could ultimately improve our communities.”
In emailed commentary, Rich Flynn, who is vice president of automotive sales at PebblePost, also touched on the importance of municipal partnership with the connected vehicle sector.
“In order for connected vehicles to see their potential, cities and municipalities must embrace and fund the infrastructure needed to optimize the experience. In the near future, vehicles will be connected to each other, but they also need a larger grid or web in order to all ‘get along,’” Flynn said.
“Street lamps, smart garbage cans — think about the simple things that are on every street — all can be adapted to support a wireless web that enables and allows all connected vehicles to share valuable information and data,” he said