For anyone who has driven back from rural South-West England at the end of a long public holiday weekend, you’ll have wished you owned a connected car. For those of you that haven’t, you’ll probably have had the same experience in your part of the world: good ol’ traffic jams. And it’s going to get worse, says Bill Ford – yes, he of the Ford dynasty. At one of the Mobile World Congress 2012 keynotes in Barcelona, we saw Mr Ford speak about the coming “global gridlock” as the number of cars on the road grows substantially.
Mobile computing and communications are going to make the experience a whole lot better though, says Ford, as devices like smartphones become not just an accessory but an integrated part of the car. That’s why, he says, the cycle of replacement will start to become a lot more similar, with car manufacturers being able to respond to the latest electronics technology. With the continued substantial increase in global population, and more and more being concentrated into urban areas, smarter cars will become essential.
It’s a long way off – longer than we are forecasting in our latest report on Telematics & Smart Vehicles – but Ford thinks we’re already on the road (if you’ll excuse the pun) to a computer-networked transport system with cars that drive (and park) themselves in ‘platoons’ to improve highway efficiency and sensors to prevent accidents. The first step on this road though is the integration of the smartphone into the vehicle, and with major car manufacturers like Ford announcing the B-MAX (at MWC, no less), that’s why Juniper is forecasting that 92 million vehicles will feature technology to integrate the smartphone into the head-unit by 2016.