The future of driving will be data driven

The future of driving will be data driven

13 Jun

By Gwyn Fennell

If you are a fan of motorsports such as Formula 1, you will probably have heard a lot about data gathering. At the highest levels of motorsport, teams deploy numerous sensors in their vehicles to scoop up as much performance-related information as possible. Terabytes of it are often collected throughout a traditional race weekend.

Many innovations for the cars we use on a daily basis have come from data that has trickled down to us from the experimental motorsport categories, and at Continental development is already underway on the data technology of the future. But what should we expect in the next generation of passenger transport? How will we put the data we’ve collected to use?

Data today

Just as in motorsport, so too our road cars gather data. The majority of new vehicles on sale today feature data capture technology. TPMS (tyre pressure monitoring system) and sat nav are typical. Sensors monitor the car’s powertrain, the cabin, in-built safety assistance equipment – there are even sensors focused on the driver!

And in the near future, the tyres fitted to our cars may generate and share data, too. Continental are developing their ContiSense technology that is designed to gather data on tyre tread depth, temperature and pressures, achieved through a clever electrically conductive rubber compound that enables electrical signals to be sent from a sensor in the tyre to a receiver in the car.

Today’s modern cars know precisely how the engine is performing, what the cabin and outside temperatures are, and even if we are feeling a bit tired behind the wheel. Sensors today are so refined that they can even autonomously park your car for you. All of these technologies are dependant on real-time data capture, interpretation and implementation that can only work with super-fast processing power and connectivity. As applications become more and more resource hungry, data connectivity advancements like in-car 5G being developed between Continental and Vodafone should help speed things up.

If something goes wrong, our cars will more than likely know about it long before we do. Indeed, advancements in safety technology mean that in the event of an accident, some vehicles now send data relating to the accident to the emergency services, providing them with a good idea of what to expect when they arrive on the scene.

Data tomorrow

With the giant steps forward in connectivity technology, even more data will be collected in the future. However, data is useless without the right technology to analyse it, interpret it, and put it to good use. This is why Continental is working on next-generation data gathering and distribution, ensuring that the data collected is of use to all motorists within a digitally connected, shared driving experience. 

In a few years time – though in some models already – cars will be able to advise us on how to drive more efficiently. They will also be able to instruct us of when and where to stop for rests and fuel stops, or more commonly in the future where to charge our electric vehicles. And data won’t merely be presented in the traditional medium of dials or screens. Expect augmented reality to become more popular in cars, with data streamed live to windscreens or heads-up displays (HUD).


Sharing data – securely

The possibilities for the sharing of data bring both pros and cons. Data needs to be protected, and that means vehicles will need to have secure encryption technology to protect the information they gather. There’s also the possibility of sharing data between cars. Is there a danger or obstacle up ahead? A vehicle on the scene may be able to share that data live with you, if you're a little further back on the same stretch of road. That could prove to be very useful, especially for avoiding traffic congestion.

We’re only at the begining of the automotive data journey, but already the benefits seem clear. And Continental are at the forefront of this technological revolution.

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Gwyn Fennell
Gwyn has been in the motor industry for over 35 years with experience in vehicle design, electrics, engine management, geometry and of course tyres. Continental has been Gwyn’s home for the past 15 years, where he has become a qualified trainer and examiner to both IMI and NTDA standards and now working towards the IQA qualification. Gwyn’s job has evolved and expanded in recent times and a more accurate but less pleasing to read title would be Technical Customer Service & ContiAcademy Training Centre Manager. It’s no surprise that Gwyn has excellent knowledge from the tyres up so when any technical questions come his way you know he’ll be providing the best advice possible.
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