Since the late nineteenth century, cars have captured the imagination of consumers around the world. In the past decade alone, consumers have purchased roughly 70 million cars each year. But in an age where CEOs travel to space and back in a day, and where you can unlock your cell phone by simply holding it up to your face, consumers across industries are left to wonder — and demand — what’s next?
The automotive industry, with 60 global brands churning out almost 80 million cars last year, is acutely aware of the demand to meet consumers’ needs and expectations. More importantly, the broader mobility ecosystem is also mindful of the significant technological advances and societal shifts occurring each year. From increasing support for reduced carbon emissions, to disruptive technology, to a market‐ shifting pandemic, automakers have been pulled in numerous directions as they strive to not only address these timely, global trends, but outpace them in the race to relevancy.
Today’s automakers have acquired an entire roster of best‐of‐breed technology. More specifically, 5G, edge computing, last‐mile AI, and blockchain are the four primary game‐changers leading the industry. And though vehicle owners may never actually see this tech dream team within vehicles’ hands‐on features, consumers will undoubtedly recognize the improved driving experience and the long‐lasting impact these advancements have on the automotive industry for years to come.
But, when looking to the future of mobility, the question still remains — what’s the most valuable technology in auto? In order to crown an MVT, let’s take a closer look at the top four contenders.
A fan‐favorite for drivers eager to connect their devices within the vehicle, 5G has already made its way into the automotive arena since its introduction to the U.S. market in 2019. With consumer demand driving increased adoption, 5G capabilities will soon be a staple in new car models. Aside from increasedchannels, bandwidth, and lowered latency, these capabilities allow for vehicle‐to‐vehicle, vehicle‐to‐infrastructure, and vehicle‐to‐everything applications that decrease congestion, increase safety, and improve the entire driving experience.
A rising star in auto, edge computing offers consumers and brands alike significantly more informed transportation experiences. By incorporating edge computing technology into cars as well as infrastructure, there is a plethora of opportunity — from enabling multi‐level authentication security for vehicle owners to tracking predictive maintenance for auto dealers. Still largely untapped, auto experts will have to determine how much computational power should be placed in the vehicle and how much data needs to be pushed back up to the cloud to fully utilize edge computing capabilities.
Last‐mile AI has increasingly gained a foothold in the auto tech market in recent years. Using purpose‐built, small‐format vehicles to deliver cargo, companies are turning towards autonomous driving technologies powered by AI to make real‐time decisions during the last‐mile delivery stage. The food delivery industry, and the broader consumer goods sector, is particularly interested in this auto microtrend as it decreases liability, lowers urban congestion, and cuts transportation costs. Moreover, last‐mile AI is also an exciting space to watch as it propels the autonomous driving conversation forward, offering insight into AI‐powered capabilities.
Although more widely recognized for its role in cryptocurrency, blockchain will soon have a more substantial presence in the auto field as the go‐to database for the industry’s many data use cases, including IoT, supply chain, and verifiable transactions. As the mobility ecosystem evolves and becomes more complex, new solutions for usage‐based services, carbon footprint verification, parts, and vehicle origination, as well as rewards and payment services, will be needed — and auto industry experts will turn to blockchain to meet these needs and propel development.
So, what is auto’s MVT? The answer is: all of them. Each of these four game‐changing technologies offer impressive capabilities and a critical piece to the larger puzzle of advancing the automotive industry — from design and manufacturing to performance and maintenance. They also maximize their benefits and effectiveness when working together to each play a powerful role in the overall in‐vehicle experience. As we look toward the future of autonomous vehicles and largely electric‐powered fleets, this exciting time in the history of mobility will be heralded in by the tactical combination of 5G, edge computing, last‐mile AI, and blockchain — the MVTs of auto.
Daniel Davenport is senior director of automotive at Capgemini Americas.