Drivers clearly want access to content in their vehicles, but figuring out which and how much content to pull in is entirely dependent on the preferences of each individual driver, according to Michael Deittrick, SVP digital strategy and chief digital officer, DMI. It’s tricky trying to second-guess what customers want, so what’s the alternative?

As personal choice is a major factor in people becoming loyal to brands, automakers and their partners are having to second-guess consumer expectations when integrating connectivity into their designs. This is made even more difficult by a sector being disrupted by tech giants and start-ups who are all too aware of how mobile technologies have become the engines of consumer choice.

To keep pace with this disruption, automakers and service providers need a 180-degree shift in perspective. They have traditionally focused on building technology into a vehicle’s internal functions and connecting the driver to the outside world.

Rather than simply connecting the vehicle’s operating system to certain aspects of the outside world, we must start thinking ‘outside-in’ – leveraging fully integrated external networks, apps, and technologies inside the vehicle to create a seamless experience that sets off an explosion of consumer choice.

Only then will automakers be able to navigate the future of autonomous travel, which I believe will evolve throughout three phases: connected, hybrid, and autonomous, all of which will be driven by new waves of technology. By following and integrating these new levels of connectivity into the driving experience, automakers can keep pace with the rapid evolution of the connected car.

  • Connected – is the current phase. Vehicles use mobile technologies and a smattering of in-vehicle apps connected via mobile networks.
  • Hybrid – from2020, vehicles will faster networks, more powerful processors and emerging technologies to assist drivers and streamline travel.
  • Autonomous – from 2025 vehicles will become fully self-driving, transforming the travel environment.

Consumers’ choice

In the hybrid phase, for example, in-vehicle operating systems will not just allow drivers to search for local attractions and plan the fastest routes.

Michael Deittrick

Instead, vehicles will go a step further, proactively scanning the exterior environment and communicating with the operating system to highlight nearby landmarks – for instance, if you’re driving past the London Eye or the Eifel Tower, it will ask if you want information about visiting hours and ticket prices.

If you just passed Her Majesty’s Theatre, it will even project availability for Phantom of the Opera, and the in-vehicle assistant will buy tickets for you while in transit and the same is possible at theatres and other venues the world over.

Until recent years, automakers and service providers have made critical decisions about the features driver can enjoy – this will all change in the hybrid phase. Though automakers will still design the vehicle’s physical structure and shape, their evolving role as mobile manufacturers means letting go of content control and allowing consumers’ choices to define the overall driving experience.

Autonomous and beyond

In the autonomous phase, drivers will become passengers as vehicles will be fully self-driving. 5G networks and inevitable emerging networking technologies will empower vehicles to replicate driving based on the traveller’s intentions, location, destination, and past travels.

However, the biggest challenge to achieving this is trust – persuading travellers to allow the vehicle to drive. In the hybrid phase where vehicles import shopping, tourism, parking, and other daily activities from the outside world, vehicles essentially become safer as they read the environment while processing volumes of data far beyond the capabilities of the human brain.

Proving that vehicles can outperform – are safer and more savvy than – human drivers is critical to people ceding control and gaining their trust, as drivers must analyse a vehicle’s decisions and agree that they would make the same choice. By developing smart, predictive capabilities, travellers will believe the vehicle’s systems are safer, allowing them to sit back and let go of the wheel.

With the connected vehicle delivering on connectivity and consumer choice as an engine of engagement, collaboration and loyalty, we must embrace the hybrid phase today and start thinking outside-in to give passengers the best travel experience possible. Expanding the ubiquity of in-vehicle experiences across a diverse ecosystem is critical to not just survival, but future success. From personas transportability to conversational engagement, we will explore our vision for the future of connected vehicle, and explain how to navigate a rapidly changing industry.

For more information go to DMI

The author of this blog is Michael Deittrick, SVP digital strategy and chief digital officer, DMI

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