In the not-too-distant future, your commute to work could be very different. Imagine stepping into your autonomous electric vehicle, as your in-vehicle assistant displays urgent work-related emails.
During your journey, you’re presented with a host of in-car contextual services depending on your location – like refuelling/recharging options, restaurant options for that lunch meeting or real-time traffic and weather updates.
This, according to an upcoming study from business consulting firm Frost & Sullivan, is one scenario that could become an automotive reality for future motorists.
While this vision of motoring is years away, the building blocks for this are already coming together in the shape of several technologies, including connected and autonomous capabilities that are being embraced by manufacturers and governments.
MOBILE EXTENSIONS OF YOUR MOBILE DEVICE
At the Consumer Electronics Show last year, Hyundai and Cisco announced a secure in-vehicle network that could lead to cars becoming connected to third-party services or apps through an open platform.
This means that your car’s capabilities could be upgraded by downloading apps or services that enhance existing systems or add new capabilities, much like you do with your smartphone currently.
INVESTING IN THE EVOLVING FUTURE OF MOBILITY
The scale of investment needed for these new and emerging technologies is huge, but so are the potential benefits, with the winners being able to shape the future of the automotive sector and how we interact with and use our vehicles.
So huge are the potential upsides that manufacturers are investing billions in developing key technologies and services.
Even long-time rivals BMW and Daimler recently announced five joint ventures offering ride hailing and car-sharing services as well as car charging, electric scooters and autonomous cars.
Why are manufacturers starting to diversify their business interests? Because times are changing, and the traditional model of car ownership is evolving along with it.
For instance, according to the World Economic Forum, by 2030, ride-sharing could constitute more than 25 per cent of all miles driven globally, which is why some manufacturers are already investing in ride-sharing companies.
AUTONOMOUS BENEFITS ON A NATIONAL SCALE
The Singapore government is getting behind autonomous vehicles in a big way. Provisional national standards were introduced at the end of January as a guide for the industry that could eventually promote the safe deployment of fully autonomous vehicles here.
One reason for the push? Potential economic benefits, as investing in such tech could lead to the development of advanced manufacturing capabilities and a highly skilled workforce.
Autonomous vehicles could take on mundane tasks, freeing workers up to do more value-added work. For instance, they could help offload cargo at ports of entry, or patrol key installations, reducing manpower requirements.
In a speech during the Ministry of Transport’s Committee of Supply Debate in 2017, Mr Ng Chee Meng, then the Second Minister for Transport, said that self-driving technology could dramatically improve public transport. Self-driving buses could also help alleviate the issue of driver shortages.
The National Environment Agency and Ministry of Transport recently announced that self-driving vehicles to clean roads in Singapore would go on trial next year, and autonomous vehicle trials are already taking place in the one-north area and areas around the National University of Singapore and Singapore Science Park 1 and 2.
Manufacturers aren’t standing still either. Last year, Hyundai and autonomous vehicle technology company Aurora announced a strategic partnership aimed at bringing self-driving vehicles to market by 2021.
STEPPING STONES TO THE FUTURE
While such a fully autonomous future is some time away, many of today’s cars already incorporate some elements of AI and autonomous technology.
For instance, the Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid has safety features like autonomous emergency braking, lane keeping assist system and adaptive smart cruise control. This is equivalent to Level 2 on the self-driving scale, in which Level 0 vehicles require complete driver control and Level 5 vehicles are fully autonomous.
The Santa Fe has safety features like rear occupant alert and safe exit assist. The former system warns drivers if they exit a vehicle and leave their child in the rear seat. The latter uses radar to detect if there are any vehicles approaching a car from behind and prevents the Electronic Child Safety Lock from being deactivated if it does so.
The manufacturer has also announced that the new Santa Fe will have finger print recognition, a feature that will be initially rolled out in selected markets. Last month, it announced the development of a Digital Key app, which allows users to unlock and start their cars with their smartphone.
Current technologies that are already in place are the stepping stones that are leading up to a step change in the mobility experience.
The next generation of cars is likely to offer a very different ownership and driving experience. If autonomous technology lives up to its full potential, our future commute could help us spend more quality time with the people who matter the most to us – instead of dealing with the aggravation of rush hour.
Visit Hyundai Singapore to find out more about its range of EVs, hybrids and petrol-engined cars.