What Are Connected Cars?

Interior of car driving down the road with streaking lights.

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Cars have been around for over a century. Since the Model T, your vehicle has come a long way with various technological advancements. What would Henry Ford think if he could fire up a Ford F-250 and play music from a cell phone? He’d probably be baffled. That shows how far we’ve come. Connected cars have transformed the automotive industry and made our lives better. What are they, and what can we look forward to in the future?

What Are Connected Cars?

Most new vehicles you see on the market today are connected cars. These machines can link with other devices outside the vehicle and share information with a computing system elsewhere. The first commercial examples of these vehicles came in the 1990s when General Motors installed OnStar technology for its machines. This service detects when the car has been in a wreck and calls emergency responders to help the driver. 

OnStar arrived in 1996 and has been a staple ever since. A decade ago, Audi started offering 4G LTE hotspots in their cars, becoming the first automaker to do so. Now, this technology feels standard in modern vehicles. How do connected cars access the internet? They typically link with a wireless local area network (WLAN), providing internet access for the car’s infrastructure and the passengers’ devices. 

What Tech Can You See in These Cars?

New models of cars have additional features that make your life easier. From safety to entertainment, driving is only becoming safer and more fun. Some of the tech you can see in connected cars includes:

  • Entertainment: One of the best parts about connected cars is the entertainment options. They’re perfect for passing the time on road trips or trekking your daily commute. Modern vehicles can connect to satellite radio systems like Sirius XM and provide music, talk radio, podcasts and more while driving.
  • GPS: Global positioning systems (GPS) have been a game changer in connected cars. Remember when you had to print out directions beforehand on websites? Or you had to buy a separate system and bring it along. Nowadays, you can use the GPS system pre-installed on the car.
  • Parking: Parking isn’t the most challenging task you can do while driving. But you’ll be hard-pressed to find many people who can parallel park. Finding a parking spot is half the battle in some lots. Today, some connected cars can park themselves, so you don’t have to do the hard work. You can control the vehicle from your app and watch it work magic.

What’s the Future of Connected Cars?

Another critical feature of connected cars is vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) connectivity. This aspect will be essential for the evolution of self-driving cars. Vehicles need to be able to communicate with each other to avoid collisions on the road. Advancing V2V technology is vital if we ever want to see fully autonomous cars on the streets.

Currently, the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) has six levels of autonomy, from zero to five. The only permitted cars on the road are level two, which includes the driver operating the vehicle. Level three and up would consist of the car driving itself. One of the safety concerns with self-driving machines is the inability to recognize other vehicles and people on the road. The future of connected cars relies on V2V evolving and making things safer. 

Connected Cars: Driving Innovation Forward

Every year, humans move forward with something to make our lives easier. No matter the industry, our ingenuity drives us forward in safety and entertainment. One way you can see innovation is with connected cars. These vehicles keep us safe and can take us into the future with V2V technology. 

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