Certainly within the USA, every new car sold nowadays has fitted an on-board computer system which monitors many sensors and conditions in a car’s drivetrain and then reports back to the owner any imminent problems.
This electronic system has roots in the 1969 Volkswagen Type III, one of the first cars to be fitted with electronic fuel injection. The ‘electronic’ part meant that there was a crude on-board computer ‘brain’ which managed the car and could scan for error conditions. Other manufacturers soon developed their own systems and by 1996 an actual, standardised system, known as OBD-II was developed and mandated by law for inclusion in all cars sold within the USA.
So where does this lead us?
Looking at the way that current car manufacturers such as Audi are integrating the Internet within their up-market models, this suggests that other car manufacturers of the (near) future may be fitted with Internet gateways providing us with all sorts of information possibilities.
“Global car manufacturers and IT companies are realising the car’s potential as a gateway to the Internet, according to KPMG’s 13th Global Automotive Executive Survey. The majority (59%) of global car executives say the most successful investment strategy in the future for auto players worldwide is corporate partnerships such as joint ventures (JVs) and/or strategic alliances, and over a third (34%) of the executives intend to collaborate with technology and IT companies to access new technology and products.
This illustrates the growing importance of connectivity ‘on the go’ for consumers in their vehicles and brings the next generation of fully built-in ‘infotainment’ car systems one step closer to the horizon. Over a third (34%) of car executives expect that consumers’ purchasing decisions over the next five years will be driven by whether the car they purchase has Internet connectivity and built-in technologies such as navigation with live traffic update, voice recognition and access to smartphones through steering wheel controls and the dashboard. The importance of such features is almost on par with car safety (37%) and environmental friendliness (40%).”
Source (5 January 2012)
Big Brother watching (or aiding)?
Following this trend it would also seem that GPS systems could well be fundamental to the car of the future and that drivers & their passengers could be provided with all manner of information as they drive along - everything from live tourist information en-route, points-of-interest, essentials such as gas stations, shopping centres and ATMs… to alerts about the vehicle’s state of health and where to get it fixed before it breaks down. Presumably it also means that even in the car we can be tracked by those interested in where we are and what we are doing.
Progress or more willing giving-up of our freedom? Only you can decide.