Your car isn't quite as smart as you, at least not yet. Statistics show that Wi-Fi connected cars and trucks are increasing rapidly thanks to manufacturers and aftermarket service providers that put this technology in vehicles. The expansion has huge implications in terms of convenience, time saving, access to in-car entertainment and how companies handle your personal information.
Thanks to more advanced infotainment dashboards and onboard GPS systems, as well as the advent of self-driving vehicles, Wi-Fi connected cars are here to stay. In 2015, 6.9 million new vehicles were equipped with Wi-Fi capabilities. In 2020, industry experts expect that number to increase to 61 million per year. By that same year, there might be a total of 220 million vehicles on the road that send and receive Wi-Fi signals
What This Means
This technological expansion means a number of things for drivers. Passengers can view digital content, such as news, movies, music and videos. GPS is already ubiquitous, and businesses can tap into location-based services, such as pointing drivers to restaurants, gas stations, rest stops and highway exits. Wi-Fi connected cars and trucks can also send payments for gas, parking spaces and food. Consumers can already pay for things through smartphone apps, so why not expand that reach to include cars that can communicate with Wi-Fi points?
Business that offer Wi-Fi hot spots can create secure connections that instantly communicate with systems installed in vehicles, much in the same way hubs in stores talk to smartphones. Wi-Fi connected cars may make several services more convenient. Instead of paying a parking garage attendant for a parking space, a hub simply deducts any charges from an account associated with a car owner's vehicle. The hub can then use GPS to give the vehicle instructions to the parking spot. When the driver leaves, the same technology can raise and lower the gate to the area.
Audi Connect, a service started in 2013, points Audi drivers to parking garages, gas stations and other services along someone's route. The service even lists prices of gas so drivers can decide what refueling station to use. Other car-related businesses, aside from parking lots and gas stations, stand to benefit from this interconnectivity. Car insurance companies, ride-sharing services and car rental agencies can use this technology to pay for services, direct people to locations and update pricing information for such services in real time.
Related to Autonomous Cars
Wi-Fi connected cars are related to the push for self-driving vehicles. Cars and trucks can use Wi-Fi connections to communicate with each other. If there's traffic trouble up ahead, self-driving cars can warn other drivers. Autonomous trucks, traveling in caravans, stay close to each other thanks to onboard communications that tell trucks what's going on at all times. All of this Wi-Fi connectivity can lead to more efficient driving habits, saved lives and more convenient ways of doing ordinary things.
There is a major caveat with this connectivity, however. Drivers must be more careful with their personal information when using this technology. Automakers and software producers must implement stringent cybersecurity measures to prevent hackers from gaining access to these systems.
Wi-Fi connected cars are great tools for saving time and energy. Consumers should look for these options to increase as connected cars become more mainstream moving forward.
Photo courtesy of David Berkowitz at Flickr.com