Before the autonomous cars take over the world

A world where self driving cars will only ply on the roads, is still few years away. Can say this with confidence, as those robotic cars have not yet seen the roads where pedestrians are not the only concern, but also the dogs and cows or a big truck coming from other direction on a one-way street.

This means that the current set of automakers should continue to make the rides which are driven by humans — safe, comfortable and engaging.

There is already loads of innovation happening around IoT and sensorization of the cars. Market research has predicted that the global connected car market is expected to garner $141 Billion by 2020, registering a CAGR of 32.7% during the forecast period 2014‐2020.

In one of the Mckinsey article it was mentioned that “Today’s car has the computing power of 20 personal computers, features about 100 million lines of programming code, and processes up to 25 gigabytes of data an hour”. With new emerging technologies at disposal, supported by the sound ecosystem, provides world of opportunities for the car manufacturers to explore.

Digital Opportunities in a Car

Personalization of the car controls for the driver

When the driver sits in the car, the car should be able to recognize the driver either by letting the driver choose profile or be able to self recognize the driver when he/she sits on the driver’s’ seat and holds the steering wheel. Once the car recognizes the driver (especially for the cases where wife and husband frequently swap driving seats)

  • The car temperature should set automatically according to drivers preference.
  • Drivers favorite playlist at the desired volume should start.
  • Identify driver preferred settings for seat, steering position etc and change it accordingly
  • Show up frequently taken routes

Analytics and Gamification

The external or internal sensors can collect data like driving habits & style of the driver, whether they are adventurous kind or more on the careful side. The sensors can also assess the external conditions of car parts, engine, air filters, tires, etc. Once the data is collected :

  • Suggest for service or replacement of certain components due to wear and tear
  • Provide ideal running time
  • Provide safety alerts
  • Gamify the experience by giving driving Scores (by comparing with friends and other users). This can potentially act as a social barrier for drivers to follow rules etc.

Maps projected on the wind screen for navigation

The directions and maps (of destinations) can be projected on the windscreen without hindering the line of sight. Instead of looking at mobile or navigational devices, this will

  • Provide better accessibility of the directions.
  • Show traffic conditions
  • Highlight any important spots

Digital Twins

A digital twin, which is like a virtual model of the actual model (say you own a Honda city SV model with engine # 123 and chassis # 456 etc etc — 3D visualization of the same model is created as a digital twin, which records the performance of your car on real time basis.

  • It can predict the impact of wear and tear and alert the customer when the service is required
  • It can assess impact of accidents
  • It can help with new product / component design — as the simulation of the real driving will help to understand the user behavior and the machine durability.


  • Recognition of drivers sweat gland — Steering wheel can be enabled with sweat gland sensors or fingerprint based biometrics which will work only with defined people.
  • Face recognition with a steering / dashboard / rear view mirror mounted camera to recognise registered drivers

Augmented display

  • Augmented display of certain or all parameters of the dashboard
  • Augmented display of routes
  • Augmented display of incoming calls when connected to a phone through bluetooth
  • Augmented display of various alerts

Virtual Reality

  • VR based training module for the manufacturing / assembly unit teams on various aspects of the engineering — model & designs, building parts, nuts & bolts, gear & levers, painting & interiors etc.
  • VR based training to learn driving.
  • VR based car showroom — an immersive car display and car customization showroom. Display various models, allow user to customize and experience the car
  • 4D Virtual drive units — integrating VR environment with movements to simulate car driving

AR for the technician

  • Google Glass or Microsoft Hololens based AR application that can help the technicians and mechanics to identify issues with the car as they look at the car body
  • AR application that live streams video to a remote technical specialist as the service center agent is looking at the car.
  • The remote technical specialist can help the service center agent identify or fix issues

Integration with digital assistants (Alexa, Google Home)

Access to some of the car data through integration to digital assistants by leveraging sensors. Some of the possible use cases can be

  • User should be able to enquire from the voice enabled help, the frequency and locations where the car will have to be refilled.
  • The digital assistant can let driver know in advance whether there is sufficient fuel for the next ride. Even let them know the status of various parameters — air pressure, fuel efficiency etc and voice alerts when attention / action is needed



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Varun P

Varun P


Working towards a sustainable future. Product Manager. Write about— Environment & Sustainability I ClimateTech I.