Guest article by Guido Voigt, Director of Engineering at Lantronix

With a production of over 70 million units each year, the automotive industry is one of the biggest manufacturing industries in the world. Despite these numbers, the industry hasn’t achieved a breakthrough due to a lack of innovative tech features. Advanced safety technology, connected entertainment, and performance- or towing-enhancement features are becoming standard for most vehicles, but few manufacturers have managed to add a real “wow” factor to their products.

Internet of Things (IoT) can change that. This disruptive technology is helping automotive manufacturers realize the possibilities and create the next generation of vehicles. IoT not only impacts vehicles on the consumer end, but on the manufacturing end.

From edge computing to smart sensors to cloud services, at Lantronix, we work with leading automotive companies around the world and are developing the many applications for modern IoT technology in the industry.

Fleet Management

Commercial fleet management is all about increasing productivity and keeping the business running smoothly and efficiently. IoT helps fleet operators optimize maintenance and logistics with driver performance and comply with environmental and safety regulations through tools like vehicle tracking, fuel utilization monitoring, driver health and performance stats, and preventative maintenance reminders.

IoT sensors can be embedded in vehicles to send alerts for coolant temperature, low battery, or engine faults. Trip planning can be automated as well, providing better delivery times and outstanding service for customer satisfaction.

Vehicle Telematics

Vehicle telematics is already in effect in vehicles and includes automation of GPS navigation, wireless communications, driver-assistance features, and vehicle tracking. IoT and telematics can come together to enhance the connectivity and electronics that allow communication between devices through the cloud. This offers real-time insights on driver health, vehicle state, and trip optimization.

Other advantages of IoT-enabled telematics include remote capabilities like speed limit controls, vehicle collision notifications, emergency response, and turn-by-turn navigation. IoT not only makes driving more convenient, but safer.

IoT-Enabled Predictive Technology

IoT connectivity tools combine edge computing, cloud computing, and data collection and analytics to evaluate risk in vehicles and predict possible vehicle health concerns. The system evaluates vehicle risk based on past health data and current data, transmits it over the cloud, and notifies the driver. Some examples of predictive maintenance include identifying component failures, calculating remaining component life, measuring performance parameters, and lowering vehicle cost-to-own. With this capability, IoT connectivity can help drivers keep their vehicles in optimal condition and save money on future repairs and breakdowns with ongoing and timely maintenance.

Cellular Vehicle to Everything (CV2X)

Connectivity features are gaining ground in the automotive industry. Capabilities like real-time weather and traffic alerts, connected infotainment, and remote emergency response need connectivity, and IoT connects vehicles through CV2X using device-to-network or device-to-device.

Device-to-network allows vehicle-to-network (V2N) communication with cloud services for real-time traffic routing and reporting. Device-to-device allows communication like vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V), vehicle-to-pedestrian (V2P), and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) for collision-avoidance systems, location and route information, traffic signal timing, and safety warnings for pedestrians, cyclists, or animals in the driving path.

In-Vehicle Infotainment

Powered by 4G LTE wi-fi capabilities, IoT-based smart apps provide drivers with virtually limitless entertainment and connectivity options. Plenty of vehicles include Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration to connect a smartphone for streaming music, podcasts, and other media.

Google also offers navigation and Google assistant for hands-free infotainment navigation while driving. Another feature of in-vehicle infotainment is remote vehicle access to open and close the doors, start the ignition, or access location data.

5G Technology

5G technology is a crucial component of the fully autonomous vehicles of the future. Most vehicles with built-in wifi use 4G LTE, which isn’t capable of producing the rapid-fire reflexes for fully autonomous vehicle operation. For now, automotive manufacturers are focusing on semi-autonomous driving with features like parking assistance, lane-keeping assist, and adaptive cruise control.

This capability extends beyond self-driving cars, however. 5G technology can also be used for HD media streaming and advanced autonomous features, such as automatic lane changes and teleoperated driving. These features can combine with existing advanced safety technology like blind-spot monitoring and automatic emergency braking to reduce traffic accidents and keep drivers and pedestrians safer.

Vehicle Engineering and Production

IoT applications in the automotive industry extend beyond vehicle technology to manufacturing and production. IoT allows manufacturers to meet the increasing market demand and align with existing business goals.

By collecting information on how drivers use different technologies, manufacturers can modify, improve, or eliminate features when designing and developing new vehicles. Manufacturers can also collect data on errors in vehicle systems or components to issue timely recalls and provide support and updates to the driver. Finally, data analytics allow the manufacturer to offer paid, targeted content to the driver for a better customer experience.

Car Insurance

Though it may not attract as much attention as futuristic self-driving cars and a world of entertainment at your fingertips, IoT has a lot of value for car insurance. Companies can access data about vehicle condition, the car owner’s driving style, average miles driven, and other factors that influence driving safety. This allows insurance companies to calculate premiums and evaluate the causes of collisions more accurately.

The result is optimized car insurance that’s based on individual drivers’ behavior and vehicle, saving drivers money and reducing unnecessary losses for the car insurance company.

Driver Monitoring and Safety

IotT’s applications in preventing or reducing collisions arise from better collision-avoidance technology and better driver behaviors. Using sensors, an IoT-enabled system can predict the actions of the driver to offer additional protection in high-risk situations and report to insurance companies accurately if a collision occurs.

Biosensors can also monitor the physical condition of the driver to track physical and mental wellbeing, such as alertness, heart rate, and breathing rhythm. If a driver is experiencing drowsiness, distraction, or a potential health concern like a heart attack, the system can predict the driver’s behavior and send an alert.

Looking to the Future

From telematics to predictive maintenance, modern IoT technology has already revolutionized the automotive industry and improved driver comfort, convenience, and safety. The applications for IoT have been rapid and dramatic so far, but we can expect they will only improve as manufacturers discover new and innovative possibilities in the not-so-distance future.

Guido Voigt (LinkedIn) is Director of Engineering at Lantronix, a global provider of turnkey solutions and engineering services for the internet of things (IoT). Guido’s and Lantronix’s goal is to enable their customers to provide intelligent, reliable, and secure IoT and OOBM solutions while accelerating time to market.

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