“The so-called ‘connected car’ is claimed to be the third fastest-growing technological device after the mobile phone and tablet with technology giants such as Apple, Google and Microsoft view the automotive sector as an expansion opportunity,” says Simon Staton, direct client management. “Connected vehicles allow businesses to access even more driver and vehicle data, but firms will need to get the support of their staff and should consider the wealth of legal issues it will create.
“Telematics, smartphone-type functionality and autonomous safety technology are all making rapid inroads into fleet vehicles - and with the moves comes issues that need to be managed around drivers’ privacy.”
He says the growing prevalence of “big data” being transmitted highlights major concerns surrounding personal security: “Those concerns manifest themselves in two areas. The security of data against the outside world which is where anti-hacking measures are vital and the use of data by employers. Compliance with human rights and data protecting legislation is business critical with lawyers suggesting that employers will have to balance driver monitoring and the use of the resulting data with the employee’s right to privacy.”
One answer, also being created by the development of vehicle and connected technology is to take a large part of the driver’s job out of the equation. In short, take advantage of the move to automated technology or more commonly known as driverless vehicles.
The research into these vehicles was boosted in the most recent Budget when the Chancellor said £100 million would be put into R&D over the next five years. The driverless car sector is currently growing at 16 per cent a year and the government estimates it will be worth £900 billion a year globally by 2025.
Jaguar Land Rover is one manufacturer currently testing Advanced Driver Assistance technologies on a semi-autonomous Range Rover. Jan-Maarten de Vries, managing director at Automotive, Enterprise & Government at TomTom says: “Automated and semi-automated driving is coming step-by-step and we will see management of the engine, assessing gradient of roads, sharpness of corners, super cruise control and building a 3D picture of the road. Traffic information will let the driver know about the start and end of a traffic jam so they can anticipate when they need to brake.
“The vehicle is in control but can give control back to the driver. There is still a driver in there but they will spend time preparing doing administrative work and becoming more efficient making better use of their working day. Perhaps they will take more control of the driving closer to a city.”
Van der Leij says it will change the nature of a fleet manager’s job. “They will get closer to being an IT manager,” he predicts.
Wincanton says it is working closely with Cambridge University on driverless technology. “We need to make sure that these vehicles will be safe if the technology fails. It is our first consideration,” Rowlands explains. “When it comes the truck will be an extension of the traffic office and be connected to other trucks and OEMs. This is all feasible on an engineering basis but I’m not sure of the political basis.”
In tomorrow’s instalment of the series we find out what the future of connected vehicles will be…