Imagine you’re driving down the road in winter and you encounter a patch of black ice. Your car swerves treacherously, and as it does, the built-in sensors in the automobile detect it, collect the location of your car and share the data to the cloud. The next car equipped with this advanced system that comes down the same road will get a warning communicated from the cloud as it approaches the dangerous stretch of road.
That’s the vision Swedish carmaker Volvo has for a new generation of connected cars it showed off this week at Mobile World Congress.
The data from the car’s sensors gets transmitted to a private cloud set up by Volvo’s technology partner Ericsson to capture, process and distribute it to participating drivers who could also be affected by the conditions based on their location.
“As part of this technology enablement, we are able in an innovative way to use the cloud to provide additional benefits like road friction information,” Klas Bendrik, VP and Group CIO at Volvo said. He sees this approach as a creative differentiator in an increasingly competitive automotive market.
We have seen connected cars in various guises for years with systems like GM’s OnStar providing real-time in-car assistance or remote starting, but this approach is unique because the information gets transmitted to a private cloud, Bendrik explained.
Bendrik says the new tool is not unlike Waze, the crowd-sourced traffic data service, but in this case, the sensors communicate to the cloud automatically instead of individuals using their smartphones. The service will be opt-in and paid for on a subscription basis, which depending on requirements could include internet connectivity in the car. Volvo is building relationships with several providers around the world including AT&T in the U.S.
For starters, the service will be available in certain Volvo models in Sweden and Norway where the car maker has a significant marketshare, but Bendrik expects the program could be expanded, and can envision a time when it could communicate to all properly equipped cars, regardless of the make.
In case you’re wondering, he says there is no personal data transmitted as part of this process.
He can see this service developing further over time, and perhaps expanding as more companies get involved.”We are leading this development, but the industry is still young,” he said.
Bendrik adds, “Over time other car makers have to be involved to make it more useful.”