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Could the internet revolutionise the automotive industry?

Posted on January 18, 2018

 

In recent years, the widespread availability of internet connections and GPS data has already resulted in several changes to the way we drive our cars.

For some of us, it might be difficult to remember a time when navigating a journey meant taking along a huge map of the British Isles rather than keying a postcode into a satnav, and music streaming apps and websites like Spotify and iTunes mean we can listen to vast libraries of music in the car without cramming the glove box with CDs and cassettes.

Now, Honda is looking into a range of internet-aided features that aim to make the driving experience more pleasurable and convenient. The Japanese manufacturer is teaming up with Chinese e-commerce firm Alibaba to work on a number of high-tech elements that could raise the stakes in the so-called ‘connected car’ market.

Possible perks in the pipeline include a system through which drivers will be able to pay for the likes of petrol and parking without leaving their car through an interconnected payment system, making rummaging for change for the pay and display a thing of the past.

Changes such as this are likely to hit the Chinese market first with the country being the largest automotive market in the world, but will no doubt attract the curiosity of British motorists too. With the UK having a number of toll roads, is it possible that cars might one day be able to simply take these fees out of drivers’ accounts themselves? It may be a weight off the mind of regular commuters between Liverpool and the Wirral who are tired of finding the cash for the £1.70 Mersey Tunnel fee.

Honda has partnered with Alibaba before in using its AutoNavi map system. AutoNavi will play a key role in this new payment technology too, as it will be used to identify the petrol station or parking lot the driver is using.

Connected cars have been touted as potentially increasing driver safety too. A report published by Booz & Company in 2014 notes that connectivity could be used to monitor drivers’ fatigue levels and other “vital functions” to identify any possible dangers. The report also cites ‘medical assistance’ as something technology may be able to support.

Long-term, the future might well be one of self-driving cars, but in the meantime, manufacturers are looking at ways man and machine can work together, with internet and artificial intelligence sure to continue to shape our vehicles over the coming years.

John Murray
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