Not SAAB related – The connected car

According to wikipedia a connected car is ..

… a car that is equipped with Internet access, and usually also with a wireless local area network. This allows the car to share internet access to other devices both inside as outside the vehicle. Often, the car is also outfitted with special technologies that tap into the internet access or wireless LAN and provide additional benefits to the driver. Examples include: automatic notification of crashes, notification of speeding and safety alerts.

The connected car is also the current buzz word in the automotive industry. But from my point of view this is not a concept driven by the automotive industry but the reaction of this to the current trend away from the car as a symbol of the ME to the connected device (smartphone, tablet, notebook …).

The connected car as found on Twitter
The connected car as found on Twitter

So the car should become a smartphone on wheels…. But if you want to connect something you have to connect it to something else. I mean, without a good network not only in the cities but also at the roads those cars would feel really alone.

Yesterday I had to make a 2 hour journey along one very important highway in Germany. I thought I could use my phone to show me the way and listen to an internet radio station during the journey. The result was that during the journey I was able to listen to the radio only 50% of the time as the 3G+ network is mostly only available at the cities or the zones nearby.

Currently the phone companies build their networks where people use it, and till now people have been using the phones at home, at work but not that much while driving to another city.

I don’t know if this is a Germany-only problem or maybe an Europe only problem, so what is your experience. Can you enjoy of the constant connectivity while driving from Stockholm to Göteborg? Or what happens in the states if you leave the big cities?

What will happen to the new fancy GPS from Audi that relies on the map data and satellite pictures from Google maps if you start your journey in the middle of nowhere if it can’t retrieve the map data?

9 thoughts on “Not SAAB related – The connected car”

  1. Have you used Nokia’s ‘Here’ app? It allows me to download maps for all of Europe (if not the world). I bought a piece of land a few months ago (part of a newly developed section of a somewhat remote island) and ‘Here’ already knows my street. Google maps still haven’t been updated. So far my user experience with ‘Here’ has been very good.

    I am not familiar with Audi’s solution, but syncing the maps every time the owner parks home at the ‘base’ makes a lot of sense. Hopefully that is what Audi do too.

    Personally I am too cheap to pay for 3G. I already pay a hefty amount of money for Internet at home, so I feel reluctant. Anna however does have a 3G subscription for her iPad and I see her using it quite extensively until we cross the border into Norway (her subscription does not cover roaming). I believe most parts of rural Sweden, the major roads at any rate, are covered. I think we hit a few black spots way up north, but it seemed to work well whenever I need it (booked a hotel room online 30 minutes before we arrived).

  2. A bigger question for me than functionality—-is whether these new “smart cars” are going to be collecting information on us and reporting it. The car will know driving habits—-where you stop—-where you’ve been—-how fast you were going at the time of an accident, etc. I don’t like the direction we’re headed—complete invasion of privacy.

    • Privacy is a thing of the past and most people don’t seem to care. Perhaps at some point it will be illegal to drive old vehicles that haven’t been refitted for connectivity to allow monioting. If not people, like George Goodwin (who commented in the “NEVS Stands Once Again…” post) will be subject to suspicion as they drive around in their old unconnected Ford pickups. They obviously will be the kind of people with something to hide.

      • I’ve heard something similar about autonomous driving cars. If politicians are stupid enough and allow those cars on the roads, the problem will be what happens to the unpredictable cars driven by humans? Best is not to allow human driven cars on the roads. So it will become illegal to drive a car, but only to save you from your incapacity to drive a car without having accidents!!!

    • If you own an Android Smartphone, Google already knows all that stuff about you !!
      And I’ve also heard that all new BMW Models will be fitted with a GPS, which will show yo how to get to your destiny, but it also can record all your travels without you knowing about it.

      • This is not just BMW. The general automotive telematics status is; either you’ve already implemented the technique or you’re in the process of doing it. This is not something new, it has been around at least 15-20 years. It is the acceptance and cost that has changed I believe. When it comes to integrity, have a look at Octo. They [Octo] collaborate with insurance companies with the goal of giving you as a driver a progressive insurance rate. The tech is already there, it is just a matter of massaging the laws a bit to fit the purpose. This will of course benefit the ‘less inspired’ drivers.

        • But till now it was only optional, new is that all BMW cars will have an GPS unit, you won’t be able to buy one without.
          And yes, I know that assurances want to get us to put a black box in our cars so they have a proof if they don’t want to pay in case of an accident.

  3. Hi Rune, I commute via a rural highway to Melbourne and typically connect an iPhone via the USB connection in my 9-5NG to listen to internet radio with the TuneIn app (to the BBC and Veronica from Holland). The setup works very well and displays the radio station, artist and song title on the Saab’s nav screen.

    In Australia, rural and remote coverage depends mostly on the provider and the technology they use. There is limited national roaming available between carriers, and then only in certain areas. The legacy telecom provider Telstra has an enormous 3G network that virtually covers all main highways at 850Mhz 3G – couple this to an external antenna and you’ll have uninterrupted highway listening. (Warning: don’t depend on a signal in remote areas, Australia can quite literally kill unprepared tourists)

    The other networks (Vodafone and Optus) use different frequencies and technologies, sometimes they even mix them (e.g. 900mHz rural and then 2100 in town, and all now also use 4G in cities – including Telstra – which your phone may choose to select) and this is where I feel the issue starts: there may be good coverage but the phone and network combination has trouble handing off between technologies. So when you drive out of the 4G zone into the 3G zone your call drops and the radio stops.

    The best way is to force your iPhone to use 3G (so it won’t switch to 4G when you get closer to a city) and to choose a network that doesn’t mix frequencies. So in Australia that would mean Telstra and disabling 4G

    Anyway, I can recommend using the iPhone in combination with the 9-5 NG’s nav system, it works seamlessly.

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