Transportation

Driven By Data: Info a Car Can Collect

Create: 08/22/2015 - 13:00

An automobile’s computer collects data — and quite a bit of it, roughly 5 to 10 MBs per driver according to some published reports. And that data is worth money: General Motors Co told investors earlier this year that it expects to realize an additional $350 million in revenue over three years from the high-speed data connections it is building into its cars. 

How comfortable consumers will be sharing their information remains to be seen. And regulators may yet place restrictions on how much and what kind of information can be legally gathered and analyzed. Currently, the various automakers have unique policies on how they treat tech partners such as Google and Apple; some are more open while others are highly restrictive in terms of the data access they provide.

Following is an infographic from Symphony Teleca on how big data analysis could benefit drivers as well as car makers.

Finding the Value in Connected Devices

Create: 08/13/2015 - 13:00

How can the internet of Things create real economic value? A new McKinsey Global Institute report, The Internet of Things: Mapping the value beyond the hype, details150 use cases, ranging from devices that monitor health and wellness to manufacturers that use sensors to optimize the maintenance of equipment and protect the safety of workers. The findings indicate that  the IoT has a total potential economic impact of $3.9 trillion to $11.1 trillion a year by 2025.

To reach that goal, interoperability between IoT systems is crucial. Of the total potential economic value the IoT enables, interoperability is required for 40 percent on average and for nearly 60 percent in some settings. Of course, most of the publcity will go to retail customers, who will reap a large share of the benefits. McKinsey estimates that IoT users, including businesses, other organizations and consumers could capture 90 percent of the value that IoT applications generate. For instance, in 2025 remote monitoring could create as much as $1.1 trillion a year in value by improving the health of chronic-disease patients.

Following is a look at where the most value from IoT solutions will reap the most value, courtesy of the McKinsey Global Institute.

Drivers Revved Up for Connected Cars

Create: 08/10/2015 - 13:00

While there is a lot of buzz out there surrounding wearable tech, many solution providers are experiencing interest from the auto sector. That may partly be because of the love of the automobile, particularly for Americans, many of whom sees cars largely as an extension of themselves. The concept of “wearing your car,” therefore is not al that far-fetched.

Underscoring that sentiment are the results of a recent study by Element14, a distributor of technology products and solutions for electronic system design, maintenance and repair. “Engineering a connected world,” asked 3,500 adults living in Australia, Asia, Europe and North America how the connected devices of the future will influence how people interact with their surroundings. The research found that electric cars are clearly a consumer favorite, and those vehicles are being studied to learn more about how IoT technology can interact with automobiles.

For example, Colorado State University, University of Pittsburgh, University of Washington and the University Wisconsin were selected by Internet2 and Innova UEV LLC, manufacturer of an all-electric micro vehicle, to receive a uniquely equipped electric vehicle for research purposes. Researchers are looking at how electric vehicles can reduce each campus’ carbon footprint via IoT sensor data.

More than half of the Element14 survey respondents said they’d like to see electric vehicles “go mainstream” by the end of 2015. And, 61% of the study’s participants either own or plan to have Internet-connected cars.

According to Element14, the top five automotive innovations are:

  1. Improved Efficiency
  2. Passenger safety
  3. Lower upfront costs
  4. Reducing emissions
  5. Increased performance

Connected vehicles can influence each of those areas. For example, the connections can be extended to traffic lights, highway sensors, tunnels and bridges. Driver efficiency is improved when that enormous amount of collected data is combined with information gathered from weather services and other sources to give drivers an accurate, personal picture of road conditions, safety hazards and traffic congestion.

In an NHTSA study, up to 80 percent of accidents involving non-impaired drivers can be avoided using connected vehicle technologies. Further, lower upfront costs are a reality when automakers use IoT to manufacture their products, because they save money by creating efficient and streamlined processes. Those savings, and any resulting increases in performance, can be passed along to consumers.

Finally, a study published in Nature Climate Change last month illustrates the role IoT can play in reducing emissions. A fleet of self-driving taxis could low vehicle emissions by 94 percent per mile when compared with the automobiles used today, the study found. Those “robocabs” could cut a full one percent of the U.S.’ carbon dioxide output in 2030.

As more devices are connected to each other via the Internet, the auto industry will be able to use that collected data, analyze is and make thoughtful decisions that will improve safety, efficiency and environmental emissions.

Rules of the Road in Developing Vehicle IoT Solutions

Create: 08/10/2015 - 13:00

For investors in technology, an old adage is to follow the engineers, because the engineers follow the money.

Following that rule today will likely lead you to California where, thanks primarily to Silicon Valley, more than 60,000 engineers are toiling away. But what may come as a surprise is that it also leads to Michigan. Despite a population that’s a fraction of California’s and a distinctly non-Silicon Valley industrial ethos, Michigan has almost the same number of engineers. 

Credit a lot of those engineering jobs to the rebound in the auto and truck industry.  Assembly lines that ground to a halt in the 2008 market crash have ramped back up. But innovation is a big part of the story too. Vehicle manufacturer are spending more than $100 billion annually on research and development—nearly four times the R&D investment of aerospace companies.

Many of those engineers are developing ways for cars and trucks to shed much of their oil and grease-laden past and embrace the new world of the Internet of Things (IoT). 

Equipping the more than one billion cars and trucks on the road with IoT capabilities is a huge market opportunity—and it’s already well underway.  Cars and trucks that can process data and adapt to driving conditions in real time are already on the market. The long-off prospect of a fully self-driven “autonomous” car and truck—long the stuff of science fiction— has captured the public’s imagination and also stirred primal fears.

But the transformation is going to be unfolding for years, if not decades. Vehicles have lots of moving parts. The manufacturers are quite siloed. Reliability is a huge issue. Designs need to get locked down years in advance of going into production. And there remain big questions about what consumers really want. 

But for an advance glimpse of how it all might unfold—and some ‘rules of the road’ for how solution providers can take advantage of the opportunity—take a close look at trucks and how a company like Vnomics Corp of Pittsford, NY is evolving in the world of IoT.

The fleets of huge tractor trailers that you see on the highway are a relatively small part of today’s transportation environment (just under 13% percent of vehicles on the road. Yet they haul over 70% of US freight (by weight.)  As a result, fleet operators with a bottom line interest in safe, efficient operations, have been among the first to embrace telematics and other IoT solutions such as those offered by Vnomics.

Founded in 2008, Vnomics got its start designing solutions to help the armed forces predict when parts in military vehicles might break down.  Vnomics then expanded its focus from the equipment side of things to the driver’s seat with solutions such as In-Cab Advisor®, which looks for wasteful driving behaviors among truck drivers, such as non-optimal shifting, hard acceleration, speeding, and idling. The solution uses an audible tone to “coach” the driver and keeps track with a driver scorecard.  According to David Chauncey, president of Vnomics, the solution has been a hit with fleet owners by delivering up to 17% in fuel savings. And while drivers might have been expected to resist the coaching, exactly the opposite occurs: fleet drivers compete with each other on performance. 

Now, with the growing interest in IoT, Vnomics is taking advantage of the opportunity to expand its reach. Having moved from solutions that focus on monitoring parts and drivers, Vnomics is now looking at solutions that take a holistic view of overall vehicle performance—factoring in variables such as the driver and engine performance—and then providing more in-depth coaching, still in real time, to optimize performance.

“Since 2007, vehicle manufacturers have improved the fuel efficiency capabilities of the trucks,” said Chauncey. “We are providing solutions that give the drivers and the fleet operations the tools to take advantage of these capabilities through real-time feedback and analytics.”

The experience of Vnomics suggests a few parameters for how solution providers focused on vehicle IoT solutions should look at the market:    

Big Opportunities in Small Improvements: While driverless cars and trucks fire up fantasies and fears, they are a long way off. The opportunities are in iterative improvements. That’s what you are seeing now from Detroit in solutions that help drivers with lane changing and parking. That’s the route that Vnomics has followed in first focusing on driver coaching and now looking at ways to optimize vehicle performance. 

Connectivity is the Key: The big opportunity is less in vehicles that are driverless and more in vehicles that are connected—to each other and to the transportation grid (e.g., traffic lights and roadside sensors.) According to Chauncey, this is where IoT in automotive is headed and trucks are likely to get there first: trucks that can use electronics to travel close together in convoys, moving at a uniform speed, save fuel from reduced acceleration and air resistance. Synchronizing trucks with traffic lights—part of “smart city” IoT projects—can help improve safety and traffic flow, while providing learnings that will inevitably impact how these technologies are used in cars.

Keep it Simple: Fleet-based software, such as what’s available from Vnomics, can collect a wide range of data that trucking companies can use improve efficiencies and profitability, R&D, inventory, customer service and more. But the key to the success of any IoT solution is simplicity. “The owners and the drivers have made it clear they don’t want to be overwhelmed,” said Chauncey. “They want information that’s relevant in the moment and useable.  A lot of our work goes into find and delivering the information that will really make a difference.”

Compute Power: Cars and trucks will be filled with scores of sensors, cameras, radar and vision sensing technologies, global positioning systems, and more. All of that means lots of compute power at the edge—on the vehicle itself—able to handle the full set of connectivity, security and reliability requirements. Intel has estimated that 1GB of data per second will need to be processed in a vehicle’s real-time operating system, and that data will need to be analyzed fast enough to allow the vehicle to react to changes in less than a second. As it develops its next generation solutions, Vnomics is working closely with Intel on processor designs that can be adapted to the unique requirements of on-vehicle performance.

The rules of the road are clearly changing and IoT is a big part of the story. You are already seeing the evidence in the critical world of trucking—and what’s happening there points the way to wide range of opportunities.

 

To learn more about Vnomics, visit vnomicscorp.com. For whitepapers, videos, blog posts and much more detailing how cars are being reshaped by Intel IoT technology, visit http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/automotive/automotive-overview.html 

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Customers Expect More from Dealers Than Ever Before

Create: 07/27/2015 - 13:00

Do your retailers’ customers dread shopping for the product they offer? Do customers keep store associates at arms’ length until they are just moments away from purchasing? Sounds like a position no retailer wants to be in, and yet car dealerships live that nightmare.

According to a study released this week, automotive sales could grow up to 24% — if buyers’ experiences improved. The DrivingSales Consumer Experience study looked at the rational and emotional factors influencing 1,300 car shoppers during a span of 16 months. What it found was that customers want to have the same benefits they enjoy at the most customer-centric retailers when they shop for a vehicle. 

"Yesterday's formula for automotive retail success is deterring consumers and suppressing sales volume. Our research shows the key to sales success today is building trust through an open and transparent customer experience at every stage of their buying process," said Jared Hamilton, founder and CEO of DrivingSales. The expectation gap between dealers and consumers has enlarged so significantly that fundamental change in the customer relationship is crucial if dealerships want to survive in the next decade. 

Among the data gathered:

• 99 of 100 potential car buyers begin their shopping experiences expecting a “hassle,” believing that retailers are trying to control the buying process. Dealers are at a disadvantage from the start, likely due to shoppers’ own or other’s bad past experiences.

• Shoppers are uninterested in forming a relationship with a dealer until they are ready to buy. When they're ready to interact, 61% initiate contact by walking into the dealership without prior contact. Selling associates are given little opportunity to offer information, some of which could be beneficial to the purchasing decision.

• Customers 50% will leave a dealership if the dealer requires a test drive before providing a price, 43% if personal information is required. Too much sales pressure is a huge turn-off.

Many lessons can be learned from the research for any retailer, not just those with vehicles in stock. Understanding what different types of customers want, knowing when— and how — to engage, and learning how much interaction is appropriate are all part of the equation for a successful salesperson. That will require a deconstruction of the current sales process for car dealers — something the rest of retail has been experiencing for the past five years or so.

The reward, however, will be large. DrivingSales found that more than half of those surveyed —  56% — of shoppers said they would buy more often if the dealership process was not so painful. The researcher has quantified the impact of that retail aversion at a significant potential increase in sales volume of 24%.

Reconstructing the car sales process will require an overhaul much like what brick and mortars have experienced over the past 10 years. Interestingly though, the pressure is not directly from e-commerce, but rather from an enhanced customer expectations. The focus on improved customer experience at brick and mortar retailers across the board has driven by e-commerce competition, and the need for physical stores to differentiate themselves by offering something e-commerce can’t: Service and personalized attention. Those are two factors that can drive customers back into the showroom.

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