Internet of Things in the Automotive Industry: Solutions for Vehicles, Smart and Connected Cars

Internet of Things in the Automotive Industry: Solutions for Vehicles, Smart and Connected Cars

Key takeaways

  • Read how IoT impacted the whole concept of vehicles development: connected cars, smart cars, autonomous vehicles, and what perspectives are in the further development of the automotive industry.

  • Learn about the big players in the field of autonomous vehicles and what solutions they offer for further improvement of AV.

  • Find out about the most popular automotive IoT use cases like predictive maintenance, insurance, fleet management, and others.

  • Developing an automotive IoT app is an arduous task. Learn about the general points you may face while developing a solution for the smart and connected vehicle and the Internet of Things. Also, discover how to overcome certain challenges connected with it.

  • Read how we contributed to the IoT and automotive industry by enabling car drivers to charge their cars remotely with the ability to control the charger via the app while sharing the rights with the appointed users.

What is automotive IoT and its benefits for the automotive industry?

This term “Automotive IoT” refers to the integration of such components as sensors, gadgets, clouds, and apps into vehicles and their use as a complex system for predictive maintenance, connection of cars, fleet management, etc. Embedded IoT solutions have transformed cars into a “near-artificial intelligence.” The Internet of Things allows manufacturers to implement a lot of innovations in the industry, with one which is on everyone’s lips now — self-driving cars. It is a vast platform for the extension of IT possibilities.

To get a real picture of automotive IoT perspectives, imagine that you will come out of the house one day and your car is already summoned from the garage to the driveway as it knows that according to your calendar you have a ride for today. On your way, a car will stream some podcasts chosen according to your preferences. On arriving, it will drop you off and find a parking lot, by itself. After getting things done, you will summon your car to where you are standing only with one click on the smartphone and drive back home.

It can sound a little bit futuristic, but it is closer than you can imagine. All of this will become possible due to the further development of the Internet of Things in the automotive industry which is already actively embedded in vehicles and whose endpoints by the end of 2020 amounted to 470 million with global revenue of $389 billion. And the tendency is proven to have a brisk growth, as the analysts expect the automotive IoT market to reach $541.73 billion at a CAGR of 16.4% by 2025.

Businesses that grow by development and improvement do not die - Henry Ford

The automotive industry is one of the sectors where the Internet of Things brought many benefits for both car manufacturers and users.

Implementation of the Internet of Things for cars’ manufacturing brought the following benefits for the producers:

  • better data collection and analysis with the following improvement and speed up of the whole manufacturing process;
  • avoidance of certain risks and financial losses;
  • higher industrial safety standards;
  • equipment theft monitoring, etc.

In their turn, the car users have got a vast range of opportunities, such as:

  • the possibility to check all the information regarding a car easily via a mobile app (on recent vehicle models, you can start the engine, check the fuel level, connect your event calendar, and even find your car in the parking lot only by a simple click at your app on a smartphone);
  • get the predictive analytics about car condition, and thus — the opportunity to reduce operations’ costs and make the driving safer;
  • obtain a new level of in-car infotainment experience, etc.
Benefits of IoT for automotive industry: transformation from no driving automation to Internet of Things cars
Image 1. Benefits of IoT for automotive industry

Integration of the Internet of Things in the automotive industry has changed the whole concept of the car itself by making it more intelligent, efficient, and safer. What if we tell you that it is only the beginning of IoT integration into the automotive industry? Let’s assess the impact that IoT has already made on it and its prospects.

Impact of the Internet of Things on connected cars smart cars, or vehicles

The first huge step of the Internet of Things for cars was the embedding of computer dashboard diagnostics in 1995 and the utilization of a 16-pin data port that accessed the vehicle’s computer network in 1996. Chrysler was the first who presented the Bluetooth-capable system in their cars in 2000. In 2006 car drivers could see the appearance of the USB slots, which were designed for a better experience of In-Vehicle Infotainment (IVI).

It took not that long for IoT to start prospering in the automotive industry, but it has already made a huge impact on vehicles’ whole concept and functioning. People don’t see cars as simple transportation anymore. The active integration of IoT technologies has resulted in the appearance of connected and smart cars, and in the longer prospective — autonomous vehicles.

Connected cars

A connected car in IoT is a vehicle with internet access and connection of devices inside and outside. There are three main IoT technologies which are actively used in cars for connection:

  • advanced telematics;
  • Car2X-communication;
  • NFC.

For example, with such short-range wireless technology like Near-field communication (NFC), Bluetooth and WiFi pairing has become faster and easier. Besides this, NFC also has a significant role in developing smartphone-centric solutions and new business models in the spheres of fleet management, car rental and sharing.

Connected cars and the Internet of Things enable the data exchange which is carried at the following five levels:

  • vehicle to infrastructure (V2I);
  • vehicle to vehicle (V2V);
  • vehicle to pedestrians (V2P);
  • vehicle to cloud (V2C);
  • vehicle to everything (V2X).

V2X combines all the levels stated above. These connections make a significant impact on the whole advancement of the road infrastructure.

  • Firstly, they boost further development of connected cars in IoT as data can be thoroughly collected and analyzed for better understanding of what drivers want to see in their cars, which technologies are needed for implementation of better city road infrastructure, and in general — determine which direction the automotive industry is moving towards.

  • Thanks to the capabilities of the Internet of Things for vehicles, cars on the road can easily exchange necessary data for providing safety and comfort for all road users. For drivers, it is a way to receive all the required data from surrounding cars in terms of accidents prevention. For the city’s street services, it is the opportunity to monitor road conditions and make all the repairs in time. The recently implemented V2P connections help pedestrians feel safer while walking on the roads (watch traffic and switch lights).

  • As the car owner, while using a connected car in IoT, you can download any time over-the-air (OTA) updates from the car’s manufacturer or get different software for a more convenient in-car experience. Such apps allow you to have real-time monitoring of a car condition, place all the maintenance data automatically, and thus see the overall state of affairs due to the built-in data analysis algorithms. With this data, you can make your spendings wiser, viable, and efficient.

Smart cars

A smart car, the one with built-in advanced electronics with system-driven forms of AI, is a very bright case in point of the integration of the Internet of Things and the automotive industry.

  • The smart car utilizes IoT devices that fulfill both maintenance and notification functions.

  • One of the stand-out characteristics of the smart car is the possibility for self-driving.

    With the broader spread of faster cellular 5G connection, there will be a wider field for creating new automotive IoT solutions and boosting the usage of the Internet of Things for smart cars.

  • Safety is one of the most important matters of concern for all road users, and IoT in smart cars is the pathway to safer driving. The Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems (ADAS) were created on the basis of the IoT technologies’ implementation. ADAS can manage the car and driver safety and prevent potential threats both on the road and during parking with the help of automotive radars and cameras. Many cars also have got teen safety tools (for example, music will not start playing until a teenager fastens his/her seatbelt, or a speed limit set by a parent).

Autonomous vehicles

It is important to say that the future of the automotive industry belongs to autonomous vehicles.

  • Such vehicles guarantee safety on the roads and bring a new level of the users’ comfort. The combination of such IoT devices like cameras, sensors, radars, Inertial Measurement Units (IMU), etc. gives a lot of possibilities for further development of the Internet of Things for vehicles.

  • The development of autonomous vehicles (AV) with IoT implementation will positively impact the environment. For example, Tesla has already announced their new service called Robotaxi. It will let every Tesla owner add via the app their car to the Robotaxi’s service and point out particular hours for sharing his/her car with other people. In this way, the amount of cars and air pollution will be reduced, and it is also a chance for car owners to defray their maintenance expenses.

There is the gradation of automated driving levels which was standardized by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). You can look through the following infographic to get more information about it.

The advance of Internet of Things smart cars
Image 2. The six levels of vehicle autonomy
Nowadays, the big players in the field of AV are Waymo, GM Cruise, Argo AI, Tesla, ZOOX, and Chinese companies — Baidu and AutoX. Most of them have the intention to develop the best possible technology for autonomous driving and implement it ubiquitously in all modern cars. Some of them, like Argo AI, are aiming to provide their technologies to other companies, such as robotaxies or delivery firms.

A particular process is applied to create an IoT app. Let’s look through the most popular IoT connected vehicles cases in the next section.

The most common IoT use cases in the automotive industry

The possibilities for the use of the Internet of Things in the automotive industry are boundless. Underneath, we present you with the most common cases which are actively applied now.

1. Cellular Vehicle-to-Everything (C-V2X)

C-V2X is an umbrella term for the IoT network that connects a car with different road infrastructure objects. As it was mentioned above, there are different levels for data exchange. They all can be divided into “device to device” and “device to network” categories.

The first one includes V2V (exchanges data about a vehicle location, speed, and dynamics, and also helps prevent collisions); V2I (exchanges data between a vehicle and road infrastructure (traffic lights, lane markings, and toll booths), and helps drivers to save their time by managing traffic and flows or queues); V2P (allows a pedestrian to connect with C-V2X via the mobile app, where he/she can check information about city transits or taxies).

The “device to network” category indicates vehicle to network or vehicle to cloud connection. This type allows the vehicle to be connected with cloud-based services or Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS). Such services and systems can provide real-time data regarding weather conditions, traffic reporting, etc.

IoT connected vehicles to everythings
Image 3. Cellular vehicle to everything connection

2. Fleet management

Thanks to IoT, fleet management has received a new concept of workflow. IoT devices installed on a vehicle collect data using RFID, GPS, and OBDII sensors. This data includes the speed, idling time, driver’s behavior, vehicle’s location, fuel consumption, load, and temperature monitoring. The information is then sent via mobile connection to the local gateway and analyzed on the fleet management platform. After it, the action (for example, notification on the vehicle’s display for a driver about the overspeeding) follows.

Check our blog post about how to create a location-based app and particularities of its development

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With the help of IoT applications in the automotive industry, fleet management has become smarter and money/time-saving as there is no need for manual work anymore. With constant data monitoring, companies can provide immediate improvements to the whole system. It also helps reduce the costs of fuel and maintenance.

3. In-vehicle infotainment

In-vehicle infotainment (IVI) means the integration of many internal and external systems for providing information and entertainment for both drivers and passengers. IVI functionality is controlled and manipulated via the touch screen panel of the head unit. It can be performed through a button panel, steering wheel, and voice commands too.

The main features of the modern IVI systems are:

  • multimedia support. You can stream audio and video data from the smartphone, tablet, etc. through USB, Bluetooth, and HDMI cable;
  • the big amount of maintenance functions and information are displayed on the head unit (Tesla took a step further — they included all the vehicle functions to the infotainment display);
  • the pairing of smartphones via Bluetooth connectivity with the ability to perform almost all phone features;
  • the integrated platforms — Android Auto and Apple CarPlay which are mirroring your phone on the car’s display, and thus — reduce the level of distraction during driving.

Almost all the apps can be used in your vehicle (such as GPS navigation maps, music apps, social media, apps for audiobooks and podcasts, etc.). You can manage your incoming/outgoing calls and messages by voice commands which is very comfortable while driving.

Although nowadays a smartphone can be connected to a platform only through the USB cable, some brands have started to manufacture cars with the wireless connection, and this tendency will continue developing.

4. Predictive maintenance

Usually, the two methods of car maintenance are used: preventive and predictive.

Preventive one means that when you know some problem is about to occur, you go and repair/replace what is needed. A predictive method actively leverages the IoT means to track all the parameters in a car on a real-time basis. If some problem emerges, the on-board system will inform the driver.

Nowadays, all the cars on the road have IoT solutions that usually consist of technologies for wireless connectivity, low-cost sensors, cloud computing, and Artificial Intelligence. With these solutions, an owner can determine any part breakdown before it occurs, which helps save money and increase safety. Sensors installed on car parts can even calculate the remaining service life of its parts and possible repairs needed in the future.

5. Advanced car insurance

There will be a huge impact on the insurance premiums with the usage of connected vehicles and IoT concerning the individual driving style, the condition and mileage of the car, the locations where it drives, and other aspects. For these purposes, such IoT devices as an odometer or in-vehicle telematics are actively used, which are usually installed into specific ports in a car.

This IoT approach is beneficial for drivers too, as there is a formula “the safer you drive, the lower you have to pay for your insurance”. There are a lot of so-called UBI (Usage-Based Insurance) programs. Its main idea is “pay as you drive”.

The program is based on the IoT data collection: you can voluntarily sign up for the UBI and freely sign out. An insurance company installs in your car a telematic device that is connected to a smartphone app. The device collects data and then sends it to insurance companies that set your premium based on your driving skills. Some companies, such as American Family Insurance, have already implemented the app, which doesn’t require any telematics devices and gathers data only through GPS and other location-tracking features.

Key points to consider when developing an automotive IoT app

There is a variety of IoT applications in the automotive industry, and the tech stack for each of them must be selected individually. Here we suggest you read about the general points which will be true for any automotive IoT app.

If you want to define the exact stack for your automotive IoT application, call us for professional consultation

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Software is a constituent component for the vehicle IoT system; however, one should be prepared to contribute a lot of efforts into selection and implementation of the other IoT components: tracking devices (RFID, GPS, satellite and cellular devices, geofencing), IoT protocols, server (cloud/cloud-agnostic), and user interface.

There are certain specifics of IoT apps for vehicles which will require your attention:

  1. The complexity of IoT solution integration into the whole vehicle system. The solution must be integrated with the on-board car computers by using certain hardware devices which require specific skills.

  2. The UX requirements for a car app. Automotive apps’ interface needs to be clear and simple, so a user won’t spend additional time puzzling everything out.

  3. The complication of the testing part for automotive IoT solutions. To guarantee full operational capability of the products, they must pass tests in different environments: in the laboratory, on road, and in a virtual environment. At Aimprosoft, our QA team can help you successfully manage the following essential software testing: performance, interoperability, security and access control, functional and usability testing.

We strongly advise you to start creating a connected vehicles and IoT app from the MVP. The list of features required first and foremost are the following:

  • access control;
  • maintenance control;
  • remote control;
  • integration with proprietary equipment;
  • security;
  • voice control;
  • automated driving (autopilot).

The security feature needs special attention while developing an automotive app for the smart and connected vehicle and the Internet of Things. If one of the parts of the IoT system isn’t protected properly, cybercriminals will have the opportunity to harm it all. There are such types of attacks as Man in the Middle (MitM), Denial of Service (DoS), hijacking of services, theft of personal data, etc. You need to make sure that your app meets the highest automotive security standards and the security system is built in at the beginning of app development.

Although the technology stack for the development of IoT apps can differ a lot depending on a particular project, we want you to pay your attention to essential ones:

Database

SQL: MySQL, Oracle Database, PostgreSQL, Microsoft SQL Server

NoSQL: MongoDB, Apache Cassandra, AWS DynamoDB, Apache HBase, Google Cloud BigTable, AWS Timestream

Cloud server

Amazon Web Services, Google App Engine, Microsoft Azure, IBM Cloud, Cisco IoT Cloud Connect, Salesforce IoT Cloud, etc.

Backend

Languages: Node.js, Java, PHP, Python, .NET, Ruby, JavaScript

Frontend

Languages for iOS: Swift

Languages for Android: Java, Kotlin

Geolocation

iOS: CoreLocation framework, MapKit, Google Maps

Android: Google’s Location APIs, Google Maps Android API, Google Maps

Payment integration

PayPal, Braintree, and Stripe

Push notifications and SMS

iOS: Apple Push Notification Service

Android: Google Cloud Messaging, SMS notifications — Twilio

Creating a good software for your IoT app is a very responsible task. If you want to know about it in all details, check our blog post

READ MORE

Finally, we want to draw your attention to another two characteristics worth mentioning — the maintenance of the server-side components, which will let you update the whole app by adding new features, and the app scalability which are certainly needed in terms of the stable work despite the amount of workload.

Our experience in using the Internet of Things for the smart and connected vehicles

A client who produces chargers for electric cars came to us with the idea to let their clients — car owners, remotely control the charges with the help of an IoT solution. The interconnection of three elements formed the basis of the product. It was designed to consist of the charger, the board (a controller inserted in the charger, which connected to the server and sent commands), and the native mobile apps for iOS and Android that we were ordered to develop.

To implement the best options for software architecture, our iOS engineers had chosen MVP (Model-View-Presenter), and the Android specialist — MVVM (Model-View-ViewModel) architectural patterns. The client opted for two user roles with different responsibilities in the app. Therefore, we had designed logic for the owner role and for the user.

To configure the app settings, the owner needed to scan the QR code (which was a unique identifier) on the charger and connect the controller to the Internet. The owners’ available features were to monitor the charger via the app (whether it is plugged in or not, charges a car or not), to share the rights to charge a car for other users, and remove the user if needed.

During development, our IoT engineers faced the challenge of removing the logging process on the controller’s SDK to make the interaction with the app easier for users. To get in advance the charger’s ID without logging procedures, our specialists had improved and adjusted the SDK code by changing the limitations of the existing solution to the clients’ needs.

As a result, the users could control their charger remotely with the ability to turn it on/off, configure the power of the charger, switch between available chargers (if there are a few of them). The app appeared to be one of the good IoT use cases in the automotive industry that contributed to the electric car charger sales: now it has 10,000+ downloads on the App Store and Google Play Store.

Conclusion

IoT in the automotive industry has made a big impact on the whole car concept which is actively reconsidering in our days. People expect their cars to be a whole software platform with easier control and interaction, and with functions like self-driving. Car manufactures can use IoT technologies both for the improvement of the manufacturing process and for the creation of better vehicle systems. One of the hottest topics is car maintenance that contributes to economy, car safety as well as in-vehicle infotainment because driving today is turning for drivers from the stressful control of the road to an exciting journey.

If you bear the idea of creating a car IoT app and want to be on the frontline of automotive field digital transformation, contact our IoT development team to make a step forward to its fast and efficient implementation.

FAQ

What difficulties may I face when developing an IoT automotive app?

When developing the IoT applications in the automotive industry, you can face a challenge of integrating it into the whole vehicle system. For this, it must be integrated with the on-board car computers by using certain hardware devices that require specific skills.

The next difficulty is testing an app. All apps integrated in a car must be strictly tested to prove their full operational capability. For this purpose, the testing must be held in different environments like a laboratory, road and virtual one. The following software testings are essential: performance, interoperability, security and access control, functional and usability testing.

The big question of concern for developers is security. Considering that all the data collected through IoT means can be reached remotely with access to just one of the IoT devices, it is crucial to think about a good security system at the initial stages of app development.

What are the payment solutions in connected cars?

This function is actively embedded in IoT connected vehicles’ IVI systems to make payment as simple as possible for the driver, which is especially meaningful when you make payments for such commodities as parking lots and toll roads on a routine basis without any distraction. For the manufacturers and businessmen, it is an excellent opportunity to establish new partnerships and benefit from cooperation with retailers by enabling contactless advance orders and payments. The in-vehicle payment is a relatively new direction for development and offers a lot of possibilities.

The first one who implemented the payment function at their car’s dash was the GM in 2017. It was meant for payment operations with fast-food restaurants. Now, this function is more extended and wide-spread. In connected cars, the solutions can be implemented via RFID, BLE hardware, or third party APIs. These solutions must support different gateways and have high-security capabilities.

One of the serious challenges for development and integration of such apps is that not all the functions of the mobile apps can be supported by the car’s head-unit. Some companies are working on the e-wallet integrated directly into the dashboard with the ability for voice control (Visa and SiriusXM).

Which safety specifics do connected cars have?

Connected cars and the Internet of Things are actively leveraging the safety on roads both for drivers and pedestrians. Integrated IoT technologies help the driver monitor surrounding conditions and react to the changes, or even take full control of the car in emergency situations. Now, most cars have their safety features as built-in options (like Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems), but the extra services such as automatic speed limiting or blocking texts can be implemented by plugging into the on-board diagnostics (OBD) port.