Did you know that all new vehicles are now connected vehicles? This includes electric vehicles on account of their ability to charge in the right place at the right time. Smarter, safer and easier to use, the connected car has many advantages. And this is just the beginning, since the autonomous car will, by definition, be a connected one.
A connected vehicle has a 3G/4G interface for exchanging information with online data servers, other vehicles and the surrounding infrastructure. The aim of the connected vehicle is to improve safety, save time on trips, reduce polluting emissions, incorporate connected features into information and entertainment systems and, in time, to enable the vehicle to be totally autonomous.
Connecting a cellphone to a vehicle has become second nature. It started with Bluetooth®, and continues today with systems like Mirror Link, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which relay some or all of the smartphone’s interface onto the vehicle’s information and entertainment screen. The 3G/4G SIM card, which is now mandatory in new cars, also makes it possible to control some features remotely from your smartphone, or to send a destination chosen at home on Google Maps to the GPS.
Aboard Renault vehicles, connectivity features are gathered together under the EASY CONNECT umbrella. It includes features such as TomTom real-time traffic information, the Coyote driving assistant, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and the MY Renault mobile app.
A connected vehicle is more than anything else a safer vehicle. In case of an accident, the eCall feature automatically calls emergency services, informing them of the vehicle’s location. A connected vehicle can alert you to hazards (slippery roads, slowing of traffic) in advance. It is also able to select a route with as little traffic as possible, helping you save time and reduce pollution.
The connected vehicle is also able to analyze and adapt to its environment. It uses its connectivity to optimize the performance of its driving aids and can also put together an “electronic horizon”: a connected cartography mapping speed limits, road features and the curvature of bends. Subsequently, the connected vehicle is safer and more user-friendly.
For the connected vehicle, this is just the beginning! It is already able to update the software of certain calculators – so as to add new features without going back to the workshop – and this feature will continue to be expanded going forward. It will also be able to communicate with the road infrastructure (traffic lights, weather sensors, tollways, etc.) so as to prevent hazardous situations and facilitate driving. For example, there could be a system displaying the speed limit on the dashboard so as to get through a run of green traffic lights (known as a “green wave”).
It will also be able to communicate with other vehicles. For example, if the vehicle in front of you has its lane assist feature triggered by a patch of black ice, you will be notified several hundred meters in advance.
Autonomous vehicles will be able to cooperate with other vehicles, informing them of moves that it plans to make (before changing lanes, for example), because driving is about communicating (with other road users) and getting information (reading signals, avoiding tailbacks and accidents, etc.) We do all these things without a moment’s thought, but to build on the data collected by its sensors, the self-driving car will use data from the cloud to put together a “digital horizon.” It will also communicate with other vehicles to find out what their next move is, and even with the surrounding infrastructure, in order to ensure maximum safety and continuity.
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