The automotive industry is becoming increasingly reliant on digital technologies. Read on to find out what technology trends are expected to shape the mobility industry in 2019.
Today, as digital transformation penetrates the automotive sector more and more deeply, cars are fast on the way to becoming tech accessories. While a vehicle’s fundamental purpose (transport from point A to B) remains unchanged, practically all of its value-added characteristics are now related to digital capabilities, shifting the focus from hardware to software content.
As overarching directions in vehicle innovation accelerate (think autonomous driving, electrification, and vehicle data use), automotive developers need to adjust and boost their tech development efforts. Let’s see what experts believe will be the most important trends in automotive technology in 2019!
Changing patterns in car use and consumer behaviour
At the root of automotive trends, you’ll find changing customer behaviour and use patterns as both a driving force and a consequence of evolving automotive technology. We first analyzed this change in our trend report on 2017, and the process hasn’t slowed a bit: shared mobility and Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) solutions are still expected to disrupt the automotive and transport industries.
Check out our previous trend reports to uncover ongoing trends in the mobility industry:
Electric powertrains continue their march to success, and the growth of EV (electric vehicle) sales seems unstoppable as gas prices mount and environmental regulations tighten. Consumer preferences, too, are pointing to the increased use of electric cars, and as the necessary infrastructure of charging stations develops, EVs are expected to become even more popular.
With digital transformation, the growing focus on user experience is evident in all industries and is already affecting automotive OEMs and suppliers, too. Customers increasingly demand an integrated tech environment that connects all their devices over the IoT and provides a seamless user experience across devices including mobile phones, notebooks, tablets, and on-board vehicle infotainment systems.
We’re already seeing smartphone integration systems (Apple AirPlay or Android Auto) on offer in the latest models. Similar features are only expected to grow in significance as the tech ecosystem surrounding drivers further expands.
All this, of course, has widespread implications for automotive developers that are still building out their digital capabilities through hiring, acquisitions, or partnering with established tech innovators.
Related reading: New Alliances Shaping the Future of Self-driving Cars
Big and fast mobility data
Describing the latest car models, the term “supercomputers on wheels” has been thrown around a lot in recent years, and for good reason. It’s not just about software: more and more sensors are added to vehicles, posing new challenges and opening up new opportunities. Sensor fusion technology has become an important field in and of itself to deliver solutions for integrating and intelligently managing the data coming from the large number of sensors in a modern car.
All that data is shared via fast-evolving connectivity capabilities. New CV2X (cellular vehicle-to-everything) technologies like LTE-V2X and 5G are paving the way for true vehicle autonomy, allowing cars to communicate with other vehicles, smart traffic signs, and just about any other “thing” wirelessly connected to the IoT. In terms of safety, predictive collision avoidance technology could be one of the most important benefits.
Related reading: The Key Enabler Technologies of Autonomous Driving
But sensors and connectivity add up to much more, affecting not just safety, but also the fundamental principles of the mobility industry.
Once we’re able to get data privacy issues out of the way (and with tightening data regulations like GDPR, this challenge is not to be understated), the monetization of car data could become a significant new source of revenue for automotive companies. The rise of automotive subscription plans (a new payment model that Volvo’s experimenting with) could be an early sign of shifting business models. With the emergence of successful strategies to monetize car data, the mobility industry’s structure could be fundamentally transformed.
Efficient ways of processing all this automotive big data will enable mobility companies to implement new services around predictive maintenance. In order to manage and make sense of these vast amounts of data, Artificial Intelligence will be a key piece of technology.
It’s probably safe to state that in 2018, Artificial Intelligence has become the number one buzzword across industries. In the automotive field, developers expect to harness the power of AI to improve safety, comfort, and performance.
Contextual Artificial Intelligence and Deep Learning are both keywords to watch out for. As a start, the help of contextual AI will support the development of accurate voice-control systems. Later on, contextual reasoning frameworks could greatly contribute to the safety of autonomous vehicles. Shared vehicles will easily recognize our preferences, while AI-powered infotainment systems will further contribute to making our journeys more comfortable.
Automotive companies the world over are investing in developing their capabilities around simulation testing, image recognition technologies, image processing, and enlisting the help of deep learning for more accurate decision-making. In the meantime, deep learning is already used to train algorithms powering the future’s self-driving cars.
Driver monitoring systems (consisting of cameras and sensors to monitor driver alertness) are already standard on some luxury models, and carmakers are experimenting with brain-to-vehicle tech to enhance car safety. Artificial Intelligence is an important pillar of these technologies, and its wide range of applications will only expand as the technology develops.
Other technologies driving automotive development
Other technologies already seen elsewhere are penetrating the auto industry, and could significantly impact safety, efficiency, and comfort. 3D printing has been touted for years as a transformative piece of technology, and we will finally see the world’s first 3D printed car roll off the production platform and onto Chinese roads in 2019.
Another tech fad, Augmented Reality, is set to make its debut in the automotive industry soon. Its widespread application so far has been limited to adding bunny ears to teenagers’ selfies around the world, but the automotive industry is now looking to take full advantage of this modern piece of technology. AR could have a huge effect on the design, prototyping, production, and maintenance of cars.
By enhancing safety (for instance, enabling drivers to “see through” traffic, or displaying weather and traffic information where it’s contextually relevant), AR could also contribute to building customer trust in autonomous technology, where user adoption is expected to be an issue.
Changing car architectures to drive digital mobility
In order to incorporate all that technology into vehicles, carmakers are looking to innovate new, modular car architectures. Through the consolidation of ECUs (electronic control units) and their layered classification, BMW is working on a modularized Service-oriented Architecture (SOA) that will help optimize the safety and performance of complex technology architectures.
Similar pieces of innovation on the back-end of automotive development will help overcome challenges of scalability, complexity, and security while also enabling developers to use Agile practices and robust QA strategies. In the meantime, reducing fragmentation and increasing standardization will enable developers to realize efficiencies in building the complex high-tech solutions embedded in the cars of the future.
Find out more about automotive trends in 2019
Watch this webinar recording from 16 January 2019 as we analyze trends in medical technology, automotive systems engineering, and software development in 2019 and onwards. Learn more about the current dynamics shaping automotive development, and get a practical perspective on how you should prepare for upcoming challenges!