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The age of Smart Cars

The age of Smart Cars has arrived, in parallel with the age of Smartphones. Services such as Emergency Call, real time traffic information and routing, maintenance services, and many other areas of comfort or security, are being built into cars. However, there are also huge challenges. Apart from technical challenges, interoperability is a key consideration.

Manufactures need to build in flexibility to allow the owner to use their vendor of choice. As the world’s largest machine to machine (M2M) association, the M2M Alliance is working on creating an easier, more flexible environment for the industry. Recently, the 7th edition of the M2M Summit was held at Dusseldorf, Germany. It attracted around 800 visitors and over 50 exhibitors. Keynote speaker Dr Thomas Kiessling of Deutsche Telekom told delegates the market for M2M is predicted to total 190 billion Euro by 2018, with over eight billion connected M2M devices. Jan Geldmacher, CEO of Vodafone Global Enterprise, described connectivity between machines as the critical factor in transforming business.

An example is the single SIM card Vodafone developed for the TomTomTraffic™ service which operates through Vodafone’s network, enabling TomTom to offer connected services in 34 countries.

Automotive Industries (AI) asked Eric Schneider, the first Chairman of the M2M Alliance, how successful the organization had been in standardizing M2M protocols.

Schneider: We represent and support our members in different standardization panels and bodies. We also support development streams and co-operate with other international associations. In addition, we have strong contacts into the regulation bodies like Bundesnetzagentur (German Federal Network Agency).

AI: Automotive companies have been at the forefront of embracing M2M solutions – how important are partnerships in creating these solutions?

Schneider: Due to the complexity of M2M end-to-end solutions, it is crucial to identify and to team up with strong partners. Without the right partners, it is simply not possible to implement a complex M2M solution. One of the M2M Alliance key functions is to help developers to find the right partners for their projects.

AI: Give us some examples of successful partnerships that have helped auto firms offer customers effective M2M services.

Schneider: Across the automotive industry, you can find strong partnerships between BWW and Vodafone as well as between Mercedes Benz and Deutsche Telekom, for example. Global players need other global players for their international solutions. The network operators on the other hand have partnerships with chipset and device manufactures to get the best devices in class for their specific network configurations. A great example for an effective M2M solution for cars and other vehicles is eCall. The objective is to have this system up and running throughout Europe by 2015. This M2M-based solution will save hundreds of lives in the EU every year.

AI: What do you see as the biggest challenge to developing/introducing M2M technologies in vehicles?

Schneider: The biggest challenge is to create M2M solutions which bring value added services to the customer without restricting him by using the services he already uses at home or within his business environment. From a security point of view, it is fundamental to build secure services to prevent any fraudulent use of cars.

AI then asked Jürgen Hase, Vice President M2M Competence Center, Deutsche Telekom and and second Chairman of the M2M Alliance, what are some of the ways telecom companies have helped automotive manufacturers deliver M2M solutions.

Hase: Telecom operators could offer to the automotive industry solutions beyond motor management applications. Deutsche Telekom for instance developed the connected drive solution together with BMW. This enables drivers to use Internet applications tailored to the car environment, and which offer services like e-mail reception and answering, making hotel reservations, and finding points of interest on their way. So in a first step M2M solutions were focused on additional driver information. The M2M technology also helps car manufacturers to differentiate their models by offering special features. Improving security in the increasing traffic is another important feature: The EU commission has decided that cars which are manufactured within the EU from 2016 on have to have an e-call system. Together with partners we have a similar solution available for motor bike riders.

AI: What are some of the technological barriers?

Hase: To have common standards in order to be compatible. In terms of prices that means you are able to produce more of product and that will lead to price reduction. One of the best examples I as a telecom expert can talk about is the standard we have in the mobile sector, GSM. Due to that handset producers can sell their products all around the world because more than 160 countries are using that standard. It’s all about economies of scale.

AI: How do you see business from M2M growing over the next few years?

Hase: Small and medium-sized companies have already understood the add-value M2M can bring to their services and products. They are very agile in adapting new technologies to increase their market, create new services or to realize USPs for themselves. In bigger companies we see that the decision processes need some more time. Now we have to serve the different needs with our offerings, and we are working with partners in different segments. M2M usage will also grow. And with regards to the automotive industry we will see more M2M solutions for rear seat entertainment.

AI: What will the growth be driven by?

Hase: I see three main growth-drivers: decreasing prices of the M2M-modules, increasing number of segment-specific solutions, and global competition. The ongoing integration of circuits will make technology much smaller. We will have smart sensors available where parameters are measured and transmitted in one unit. We will see a broad spectrum of solutions from tracking, to vending machines connected to a CRM system to optimize storage of goods and increase business through the machines. And globalization will have “work-streams”: the one will lead to decreasing costs of modules while they are marketable worldwide. Globalization is leading to greater competition in every industry sector, increasing the need to differentiate with your products and services in front of the customer. M2M can leverage your business here.

The risk and revenue of connected cars
By: Clemens Schuchert, Head of Competence Center M2M at COCUS AG

Integrating M2M solutions in our vehicles is undoubtedly a huge leap for the industry as well as for the drivers. Most customers are willing to pay an extra fee for safety, comfort and the convenience a smart car has to offer. Even the marketing departments are happy to finally talk about something else than just fuel efficiency or the latest crash tests. However, without wanting to spoil everyone’s mood, I have to stress that M2M connectivity and the automotive industry don’t fit easily together.

Although most car manufactures have found their partners for their smart car solution, the challenges of today and the future are still enormous. Years of development work and a lot of money have been invested in the connected smart car, but still we bump into new problems every day. Connecting bullet proof CAN bus systems and EOBD/OBD-II with digital cellular access networks looks simple in all the shiny marketing brochures, but it turns into a maze of obstacles and problems in reality.

The challenges are not only to overcome technical issues but also lie within the communication between different departments and industries. Even when a telecommunications engineer and a car engineer talk about the very same subject, two worlds are clashing. They might use the same words, but mean something different. Furthermore, politicians are ambitious to regulate the automotive and telecom market beyond safety, privacy and data protection. It is therefore of utmost importance to plan ahead and to find the right strategic approach which takes into account all the various challenges that companies are guaranteed to face when they develop new M2M solutions for the automotive industry.

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Wed. July 17th, 2024

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