Mo­biles ‘n’ mo­tors: Cars of the fu­ture take driv­ers from be­hind a wheel to be­hind a de­vice

The con­ver­gence of com­mu­ni­ca­tion tech­nol­ogy, big data, and Cloud ser­vices with au­to­mo­biles will to­tally re­shape our ‘mo­bile’ lives. Who will rule in the new era? And what role will Tai­wan play?

The China Post - - BUSINESS - BY SHU- REN KU

Auto-pi­loted ve­hi­cles and the In­ter­net of Ve­hi­cles are among the hottest top­ics and most im­por­tant trends of 2015. At the Las Ve­gas show and the Shang­hai Con­sumer Elec­tron­ics Show in late May, the world’s top 10 au­tomak­ers pulled out all the stops, steal­ing the thun­der from smart phones and wear­able de­vices.

Be it a BMW gal­lop­ing down the Au­to­bahn on au­topi­lot or the ar­ray of daz­zling au­to­mo­tive tech­nolo­gies and ser­vices shown at CES (Con­sumer Elec­tron­ics Show) in Shang­hai, a por­trait of the fu­ture of au­to­mo­bile life is be­ing sketched out.

This new world will see a par­a­digm shift in the cen­tury-old au­to­mo­bile in­dus­try, at­tract­ing all sorts of in­dus­tries to climb aboard. But more than that, it will com­pletely change the face of our mo­bile lives, mak­ing driv­ing and rid­ing in ve­hi­cles both safer and more con­ve­nient.

What will this world look like, and how will it trans­form our mo­tor­ing lives? Let’s take a mo­ment to paint a pic­ture of a day in this not-too-far-away fu­ture:

In the morn­ing, be­fore go­ing to work or an ap­point­ment, you share your cal­en­dar from your mo­bile phone with your car. The car’s com­puter pro­ceeds to map out the best route ac­cord­ing to the lat­est traf­fic con­di­tions.

Be­fore get­ting in your car, you start the en­gine and open the door via your mo­bile phone. Dur­ing win­ter you can warm up the en­gine, and in the hot sum­mer months you can run the air con­di­tioner get­ting in.

En route, if there is an ac­ci­dent or con­ges­tion, the car’s com­puter pro­vides an al­ter­nate route. If you still end up stuck in traf­fic and the com­puter de­ter­mines you’ll be late, you can turn over driv­ing du­ties to the car’s au­topi­lot sys­tem while you use the vis­ual in­for­ma­tion sys­tem to con­tact your col­leagues and take care of ur­gent busi­ness or even con­duct a meet­ing.

Be­fore ar­riv­ing at your des­ti­na­tion, the car’s com­puter gives you the lo­ca­tion of an avail­able park­ing space. You alight at the en­trance, in­put a com­mand on your mo­bile phone, and the car au­to­mat­i­cally parks it­self in the space, af­ter which it re­ports the lo­ca­tion to you via your phone. When you want to re­sume your rounds, you use your mo­bile phone to sum­mon your car, which au­to­mat­i­cally drives to from the park­ing space to meet you.

On the way home from work, if you want to make din­ner reser­va­tions or book tick­ets to a show,

to

cool

it

off be­fore you can use the In­ter­net to do so. And if any of the car’s parts are worn out, bro­ken, or need regular main­te­nance, the car’s com­puter alerts you via your mo­bile phone and makes an ap­point­ment with the auto shop for you.

All of your in­ter­ac­tions with the car and com­mands to its com­puter are trans­mit­ted via voice so you can con­cen­trate on driv­ing. In other words, the car of the fu­ture will be­come your mo­bile phone, driver, traf­fic up­date broad­cast, sec­re­tary, of­fice, and valet... all the while keep­ing ev­ery­one’s on-line life con­nected on the road.

“My on­line ex­pe­ri­ence gets cut off as soon as I get into the car, which makes no sense,” says Yeem­ing Chang, chief strat­egy of­fi­cer of the PakLee Foun­da­tion, a long­time ob­server of the dis­rup­tive in­no­va­tion of In­ter­net tech­nol­ogy. “In the fu­ture cars will have to fill this void,” he adds.

Driv­ing Is Like Us­ing a Phone

Au­to­mo­biles will be able to do th­ese things in the fu­ture be­cause such in­for­ma­tion com­mu­ni­ca­tion tech­nolo­gies as the In­ter­net, sen­sors, ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence, big data anal­y­sis, and Cloud ser­vices are ready now.

The cen­tral re­search cam­pus of global elec­tri­cal en­gi­neer­ing and in­for­ma­tion com­mu­ni­ca­tion sys­tems leader Siemens, with a re­search staff of over 1,000 peo­ple, is lo­cated in Mu­nich, Ger­many. In one cor­ner, as in­con­spic­u­ous as a garage lab­o­ra­tory, a re­search project is be­ing con­ducted that could com­pletely re­shape the way au­to­mo­biles are de­signed and op­er­ated in the fu­ture.

Sub­si­dized by the Ger­man gov­ern­ment and launched last year, Project RACE (Ro­bust and Re­li­able Au­to­mo­tive Com­put­ing En­vi­ron­ment for Fu­ture eCars) is be­ing con­ducted to de­velop a stan­dard­ized au­to­mo­bile com­puter ar­chi­tec­ture for fu­ture au­to­mo­biles to re­place the me­chan­i­cal power trans­mis­sion struc­ture used to­day.

Dr. Cor­nel Klein, direc­tor of the project, ex­plains that cur­rent ve­hi­cle op­er­a­tion is based on a me­chan­i­cal gear struc­ture as­sisted by elec­tri­cal mo­tors. In the fu­ture, sig­nals will be trans­mit­ted by the car’s cen­tral pro­cess­ing unit through elec­tri­cal wires to mo­tors built into the car’s four wheels to con­trol steer­ing, ac­cel­er­a­tion, and brak­ing. Driv­ing a car in the fu­ture will be sim­ple and take lit­tle ef­fort, not even re­quir­ing the driver to turn the steer­ing wheel.

Story con­tin­ues on page 6

AP

This May 13, 2014, file photo shows a Google self-driv­ing Lexus out­side the Com­puter His­tory Mu­seum in Moun­tain View, Cal­i­for­nia.

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