Connected cars: whose data is it anyway?

In a prime example of the potential of connected cars, Volvo recently announced that it will share real-time data with the aim of improving road safety.

Some Volvos already warn each other about local threats such as slippery surfaces or broken down vehicles. The idea is to make this kind of anonymised data available “for the greater good”, as Håkan Samuelsson, president and CEO of Volvo Cars, put it.

So far so altruistic, but what about all the other data being collected?

Well, academics at Dartmouth College in the US have been looking at this very issue, particularly in relation to navigational technologies. Lead researcher Professor Luis Alvarez León is in no doubt that decisions should not be left to vehicle manufacturers alone.

In his peer-reviewed article, Counter-Mapping the Spaces of Autonomous Driving, he said: “The race for automated navigation leads automakers to compete over the release of new technical features and new revenue streams, while paying secondary attention to the possible negative externalities for consumers.”

Bill Hanvey, CEO of the Auto Care Association, agrees. Writing in the New York Times, he said: “It is clear, because of its value – as high as $750bn by 2030 – carmakers have no incentive to release control of the data collected from our vehicles.

“Policymakers, however, have the opportunity to give drivers control – not just so that they can keep their data private but also so that they can share it with the people they want to see it.”

Closer to home, Fleet News reported on a KPMG survey showing that just 35% of UK automotive executives expect the driver to have data ownership. So, two thirds expect their companies to take care of it?

From the use of facial recognition software, to insights gathered from voice commands, we need to talk more about personal data in relation to connected cars.

New £8.4m CAV testing facility at Bruntingthorpe in Leicestershire

A new 6km testing facility for connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs) is being constructed at Bruntingthorpe Aerodrome and Proving Ground in Leicestershire.

The development, to be known as the Cavway, is expected to cost £8.4m, including £4m of government funding.

It will feature an array of highways designed by consortium partner Applus+ IDIADA, including smart motorways, rural B roads, urban A roads and all kinds of junctions.

Dave Walton, managing director of Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground, said “The site at Bruntingthorpe and the experience of the Bruntingthorpe team, together with IDIADA’s experience in designing and operating proving grounds, will allow us to develop a world class CAV facility which will attract intelligent vehicle development activities to the UK.”

The project is backed by Zenzic, previously Meridian Mobility, a joint government and industry initiative tasked with accelerating connected and driverless vehicle technologies in the UK.

SMMT report promotes UK leadership in driverless cars

A new report by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) and Frost & Sullivan claims the UK is “among the front runners” in developing and deploying driverless cars.

Published in April 2019, Connected and Autonomous Vehicles: Winning the Global Race to Market highlights the UK driverless car road trials and identifies three key factors: 1) enabling regulations; 2) enabling infrastructure; and 3) market attractiveness.

SMMT chief executive, Mike Hawes, said: “Over the coming decade, today’s driver assistance technology and the next generation of autonomous systems are set to save 3,900 lives and create 420,000 new jobs across automotive and adjacent sectors – with an overall annual £62 billion economic benefit to the UK by 2030.”

Head of mobility at Frost & Sullivan, Sarwant Singh, said: “The UK has a near perfect blend of attributes that will help it capitalise on CAV deployment. These include a forward-thinking approach to legislation, advanced technology infrastructure, highly skilled labour force and technology savvy customer base.”

A big caveat, according to Hawes, is the need to leave the EU in an orderly fashion.

You can read the full report here.