Without a doubt, connected cars are among the best-positioned IoT devices to provide insights into what is happening in the world. Active safety and autonomous driving are spurring the adoption of camera sensors, which can give rich, semantic insight into each connected car’s environment.
Vehicles are also being equipped with more powerful embedded compute, not only in the advanced driver-assistance systems domain, but also to deliver richer infotainment experiences, providing the necessary headroom to process sensor data and extract insights in field. Unlike a static smart sensor, such as a traffic camera, connected cars roam all over the globe — with each individual vehicle potentially offering insight into situations unfolding over many miles of road.
Furthermore, connected cars are expected to be among the earliest adopters of 5G in the IoT, as automakers, conscious of the lengthy lifetimes of their models and the possibility of network sunsets, seek to future-proof their connected-car designs.
However, as well positioned as automakers are to harvest a new, data-monetization revenue stream, passenger vehicles do have one major weakness — poor utilization. As I wrote this article, my car was sitting idle outside — it was not generating insights of use to anybody. The same is likely true of your car right now. Passenger-vehicle utilization rates (the amount of time a vehicle is in use) are infamously low — typically around 5 percent or eight to nine hours per week.
Conversely, smart mobility and transit vehicles, which are operated in fleets, have much higher utilization rates. A city bus can easily be in operation for eight to 10 hours per day. A typical Uber driver can be on the move for seven hours a day, with caps in place to enforce rest periods after shifts of 10 or 12 hours, and even a typical e-scooter will see more use in a week than most passenger cars.