Suraj Nair, Director- Technology, COE Leader of Telematics and IoT, Quest Global, believes that while the automotive sector is following the consumer electronics market in terms of technological breakthroughs, it will always lead the way in terms of employing technology to improve mobility experiences.
'We are constantly surrounded by technology in the twenty-first century, no matter what we are doing. Humans' reliance on technology has grown to the point where they have an insatiable desire for modern luxuries in all aspects of their existence, including automobiles,' he says.
Due to the abundance of connected capabilities, automobiles are increasingly viewed as mobile phones on wheels. In an interview with Mobility Outlook, Nair stated that the automotive sector is closely monitoring advancements in the consumer electronics space. 'This assists the industry in improving the consumer experience based on what they prefer,' he said.
With more young customers entering the market, the requirement for connected platforms stays quite high. For these customers, tech becomes the product differentiator, and IoT acts as an enable in that scenario.
He noted that the automotive industry is not only following the consumer electronic space but also collaborating with the players. Sony and Honda recently announced a collaboration to build Sony Honda Mobility (SHM). With the mission of 'Moving people through the pursuit of innovation with diverse inspirations,' the firm wants to become a software-oriented mobility tech company by providing high-value-added goods and services and developing new customer relationships.
The OEMs also use tech to add a personalisation touch to their products for each customer by collecting data through various platforms.
However, while IoT is helping the automotive industry to bring more connected features to enhance customer experience, Nair believes the main use of IoT in the industry remains for safety and security.
He stated that most advancements in car safety technologies, like ADAS, are banking on IoT features. Furthermore, regulations have made it almost obligatory to adopt IoT regarding mandatory regulations like speed assist, where automakers are looking towards Intelligent Speed Assist for increased safety.
The Director believes IoT in automotive will revolve around getting autonomous driving for the next five years. He noted that while the industry has achieved Level 2 autonomy, the end goal is complete automation, wherein the vehicle drives itself. With that, the cabin experience and setup would change, where IOT will again play a major role in building customer experience, Nair noted.
A similar run can also be seen in the two-wheeler space, where apart from adding connectivity to these machines, especially with the new-age electric two-wheeler, IoT is also aiding the safety part of the whole experience.
Nair continued that while IoT will play an important role in building consumer experience in the passenger vehicle space, the main use of IoT in the commercial vehicle (CV) space would be to ensure safe driving habits for the driver. He noted that while cost-effectiveness will still be as important as today, CVs, in future, will incorporate multiple ways to analyse driver behaviour, such as by visual sensors or sensors fitted to the steering wheel to check the driving pattern.
“More than the brilliant consumer experience and end-to-end digitisation that you see in the consumer car industry, I think that the priorities are different in the CV space,” Nair stated.
IoT In Other Spheres Of Mobility
Nair believes that while IoT in automotive will mostly aid the safety aspects added to the consumer experience, the aviation and railways industry will take a different route with IoT due to the multiple dimensions attached to these modes of transportation.
The primary use of IoT in aviation and railways is to track the behaviour of passengers and enhance the experience at airports and railway stations. By tracking these behavioural patterns, the two industries can strategically place shops and amenities in accordance with the behaviour, enhancing the whole experience of travelling.
In addition, IoT in aviation can also be used in tracking baggage using RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) technology. Monitoring aircraft components is another area where IoT is upcoming.
The company official noted that while currently the monitoring of components is done offline once the aircraft completes a trip, there is a scope for IoT using satellite systems to transmit data to servers in real-time so that engineers can monitor the status of components of the aircraft in real-time.
Nair added that IoT monitoring can be applied to trains to monitor infrastructural issues (such as track), engine components, and HVAC systems.
However, while these aspects of IoT will be incorporated in aviation and railways sooner than later, autonomous driving/flying is one thing for which these industries will follow the automotive sector.
Nair believes that railways will be the first ones to adopt autonomous vehicles, given that trains run on a dedicated corridor, which helps simplify the coordinates. However, autonomous flying will take some time, as flying in 3D space is much more complicated than running vehicles on the road.
Another aspect where all three industries look is 5G and IoT. He believes that while 4G was designed more for handsets, 5G is designed for connecting devices. While the world is seeing continuous efforts of aiding IoT with 5G when it comes to automotive with all the new age connected and V2X features, railways is an industry which will soon follow the footsteps of automotive in this sphere as the chances of losing connectivity, especially with bullet trains is much lesser when aided with 5G. However, the aviation industry will still stick with satellite communication for some time.
Nair noted that while all three industries’ workings are different, the end goal of IoT remains the same, and the IoT platform remains replicable across the three industries. However, the data collection part differs due to various complexities across the industries.
“Automotive industry solutions have to handle a larger scale than railways and aviation because the number of devices in the car industry is much more than the rail industry and the aviation industry. So the platform has to be designed for scale,” he concluded.