Well I don’t mean actually speak to you—that would be freaky. Imagine you’re driving along and the car starts speaking—that would put me off from driving slightly!
So what do I mean when I say “communicate with you”? You might be surprised to know that cars have a huge amount of data within them, but they do. Even if your car is 10 years old it probably has a fair amount of data. But when a car leaves the production plant the manufacturer no longer has access to this onboard data.
If the car could communicate, allowing the manufacturer to access its data, then maybe it could preempt part failures.
You‘re lucky enough to have a new car, and let’s say it comes with a four-year warranty. Fast forward three years and all of a sudden your car stops.
While waiting for the rescue truck to come you’ll probably use your smartphone to tweet or post on your social networks that you’ve broken down, naming your vehicle manufacturer. Now all your chums will know your car has let you down. This is bad news for the manufacturer, even though it might not be their fault. Maybe the car knew what was going wrong but it couldn’t tell you.
Replay the above scenario but this time with a connected car
Again you’re lucky enough to have a new car with a four-year warranty. Three years into this warranty the water pump starts to fail, but this time since the car is connected it is able to send a Message Queuing Telemetry Transport (MQTT) message with this vital data back to the manufacturer. The water pump issue is noticed, and since your car is still under warranty the after-sales service team contacts you to ask you to bring the car in for a minor repair. This isn’t urgent but needs correcting. So you don’t break down! And therefore you don’t tweet or post bad news; instead you tweet and post good things about the car and the maker.
Good news for the car company, right?
Well, yes it is. But it goes further. Maybe this water pump was designed to do 300,000 miles but it started to fail after 50,000. Maybe this is a one-off event? Or maybe this is a start of a trend. If so the after-sales team could put a watch on water pumps and notice a water pump failure trend starting.
The dreaded mass product recall
Currently car companies would have to do a mass product recall in a case like this. Car companies dread this because it really hurts sales and the pain can last many months. But if the car is connected they wouldn’t have to do this mass product recall. They could see which cars have defective water pumps from the data arriving from connected cars that sent in MQTT messages through IBM MessageSight. Rather than issue a product recall the company can reach out to the individual drivers and ask them to come in for a part replacement at no charge. Not only does this benefit the car maker and the driver who doesn’t break down, but it also helps the dealer network to schedule the repairs.
Only this week Volkswagen has issued a 2.5+ million car recall, and there are many more examples like this. This damaging news has been played out across the media.
Okay. You probably think the connected car is science fiction or years away like the driverless car. But no. This new IBM Technology is being used right now by car makers across the world as a way of connecting their vehicles so they can receive the data that is currently lost.
So maybe your next car will be a connected car? Many of us now have smartphones, and they are certainly useful in the event of car trouble, but connecting your car so that it can do predictive maintenance—now that could be even better.
You might be wondering what else is in it for you, the car customer. In my next blog post I’ll be telling you about a few of the possibilities that a connected car can bring to the car owner with a smartphone. In the mean time, please feel free to leave a comment here or on Twitter, or connect with me on LinkedIn.