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Our world is more connected every single day, with technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) progressing rapidly and bringing along innovations at every step of the journey. Mobility has taken center stage as one of the primary beneficiaries of these advancements.

In a sea of smart home devices and internet of things (IoT)-enabled solutions, smart mobility developments like connected vehicle data (CVD) are among the most promising as they provide a tangible vision not only for the future of cars, but for city infrastructure, retail businesses, global supply chains and everything in between.

How can connected vehicle data be so widely impactful? First, let’s establish what this data is, where it comes from, and what it does today. 

How does connected vehicle data work? 

Unless you drive vintage, odds are your car is already enabled to derive valuable information and outputs from itself that serve a vital function to drivers and society as a whole. This information ranges from braking data to engine run times to specific traffic patterns, painting a comprehensive picture of vehicle performance, driver behavior, and how a singular flow of traffic feeds off these individual inputs.

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Connected cars are born from the usage of this data, which is transmitted to their automaker directly from each vehicle. The data is then analyzed by internal or external data scientists to communicate insights and valuable real-time adjustments for traffic flow and much more.

This all sounds like quite the impactful technology, but there is still significant ground to cover for the average person to feel its effects in their daily lives (both on the road and outside their vehicle). The most prevalent setback today? Most automotive manufacturers do not share the same data languages, leaving petabytes of data that cannot be understood by the entire marketplace for greater benefits. 

Awareness of the benefits of CVD analytics is already rising – so, too, is the pool of connected vehicles informing automakers, governments, and brick-and-mortar businesses. At Wejo alone, we’ve collected and analyzed data points of over 66.8 billion journeys from approximately 12 million active connected vehicles.

More broadly, Statista reports that there are already 84 million connected cars on U.S. roads as of 2021, and that number is predicted to shoot up to 305 million by 2035. This exponential growth in raw data output will require an exponentially larger support infrastructure but could have exponentially larger day-to-day benefits within the same timeframe.

What are the perks?

Today, we’re seeing microcosms of a connected on-road experience worldwide. From state departments of transportation to traffic management firms, connected vehicle data already presents several use cases and benefits, including:

  • Lighter congestion at peak travel times thanks to optimized traffic signal timing with real-time updates based on flow of vehicles in different sections of a city’s roadways.
  • Heightened safety and lower accident risk stemming from communication between connected cars and cloud communication services that can notify drivers of existing accidents and potential risks like road work, fallen trees, and more.
  • Reduced emissions, resulting directly from alleviating traffic and consequently reducing travel times and the number of vehicles idling at any given time.
  • Opportunities for increased business visibility based on data showing peak travel times through specific corridors, allowing businesses to tweak their hours of operation or advertising strategies to reach the highest number of drivers throughout the day.

Connected vehicle data also inform the development of more forward-looking technologies like autonomous vehicles (AV) and electric vehicles (EV) that will lead to greater benefits for drivers in the future. For example, machine learning systems are hard at work today helping vehicle AI become smarter and more adaptable to unique on-road situations.

On the electrification front, range and charging infrastructure has long been a pain point for apprehensive consumers. With connected vehicle data, auto manufacturers and charging providers can adjust vehicle design elements and charging locations to optimize energy consumption for more efficient travel.

Looking ahead

Practically every new car today is a connected car, contributing to a larger network of connected devices and machines that will change the way we live our lives (for the better) in the near future. What will this look like?

Firstly, the vehicles we use will become increasingly intelligent and software-defined, taking advantage of advanced vehicle architectures and edge computing capabilities to make every journey safer, less stressful and more sustainable. From complex sensors that monitor the vehicle and its surroundings to new powertrains and in-vehicle experiences, connectivity and connected vehicle data will underpin these advancements.

Smart mobility, and connected vehicles, in particular, will have wide-reaching effects beyond the driver’s seat of a car. Combined with emerging innovations that may otherwise be siloed in particular verticals, we may soon see an extensive ecosystem where connected vehicles help make our cities smarter, our businesses more profitable, and our travel more convenient, safe and enjoyable. 

Sarah Larner is the executive vice president of strategy and innovation at Wejo.

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