Time Ripe for India to Get into the Reality of Connected Cars!

Birender Singh

Birender Singh

So, the stage seems set for connected cars for major countries around the globe as they ponder over the concept of autonomous cars and bring out regulations with respect to driverless cars.

In the UK, Chancellor George Osborne unveiled few plans in the Budget this month that would give fillip to driverless cars in the nation and most likely, by 2020 Britain would see the dream of driverless cars turning out to be a reality.

Driverless car trials in the UK will begin on the strategic road network by 2017, and a £15m ‘connected corridor’ from London to Dover would be set up to enable vehicles to communicate with infrastructure and even with other vehicles, as per the Budget.

Going by studies, connected and autonomous vehicles have the potential to generate 320,000 jobs in the UK, and these new vehicles will deliver a £51 billion boost to the UK economy. And the best part would be these cars could reduce serious road accidents by over 25,000 a year by 2030. In fact, the government wants to make the UK as the global centre for connected and autonomous vehicles.

In the US market, the revenue from the connected car market amounts to USD 8,011 million and it is expected to touch an annual growth rate of 27.5%, resulting in a market volume of USD 21,217 million by 2020. The connected car penetration is at 9.33% currently and is likely to hit 27.66% in 2020.

Although, the concept of these future cars is trending these days, but here naysayers would have their own views against such a concept and they would put the anecdote of the recent Google’s self-driving car causing an accident to validate their points. In addition to that, a school of thought has expressed its concerns over the vulnerability of these cars to cyberattacks as connecting a car to the internet always has its risk factors.

Well, their claims could be dismissed as the accident was an aberration and secondly, as far as cyberattacks are concerned they are just becoming inevitable in almost, every sphere of life and hence, the need is to develop a complete robust mechanism which could be adopted in all walks of life to ward off any such attack in any arena as the benefits attached to the internet-enabled devices could not be overlooked.

Coming to home, there is a dire need for an overhaul of the entire transport system, with traffic jams, rash driving, rising road accidents, paucity of vehicles on the roads, becoming a way of life. According to a WHO report, road accidents in India kill more than 2 lakh people and in such a scenario, connected cars could prove as the saving grace and nothing, like it if they could be made entirely customized to Indian environment.  But unfortunately, India has just scratched the surface in this space.

From the regulation side, the right moves are awaited from the government that could give a boost to the telematics industry and hence, to the concept of connected cars in India.

Although, some work is already in progress in this regard with companies talking about internet-enabled cars that present a $30-billion opportunity for a number of sectors in India and can grow nearly six-times, but more needs to be done for paving a smoother passage for connected cars.

Despite a number of aftermarket solutions in the commercial vehicle space, the country does not have an integrated offering from the Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs). Lack of basic infrastructure and reliable connectivity are some of the other challenges for India, and so the need of the hour is to get started off and fixing all the major issues.

IT companies such as Infosys, TCS, Wipro and HCL have tied up with global carmakers, auto parts suppliers, insurers and content providers for integration of technology.  Infosys has developed a customised telecom solution –Application Platform, for connected cars and has partnered with a tech start-up to monitor driving behaviour using a Telematics Dongle as an aftermarket solution to auto insurers.

At the same time, some R&D work is also in progress with Microsoft and Japane-based auto manufacturer Toyota working over safety solutions.

Wipro is also working on an infotainment system. Telecom operator Vodafone is in talks with Accenture, Huawei and Porsche to integrate machine-to-machine (M2M) technology to power internet applications.

Keeping in mind the fact that India today has made a mark for itself in the global map, it is high time that we should expedite the process of resorting to newer technologies sans wasting time.

To make it a sweet spot for investment, it’s prudent that we should not miss the bus and in fact, in time hop into that to make a technologically advanced future.