Vehicle telematics, or vehicle communications technology, has already had a big impact on the way people drive. Navigation systems that once cost a fortune are now available for free on most smartphones, while tracking apps and devices have made it possible to track vehicle position and behaviour in real time. Meanwhile apps like Uber have completely disrupted the traditional taxi industry, and electronic toll gates are slowly but steadily replacing stop and pay systems.
While these changes have all been impressive, they’re the vanguard of a tidal wave of change that is transforming the way we drive and think about personal transport.
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1. Usage based insurance
The idea of usage based insurance has been around for a while, but has been held back by the expense and inconvenience of installing tracking units in cars. Furthermore the insurance companies that have used vehicle tracking devices have typically adopted this technology to develop more accurate risk profiles for their clients, rather than to directly incentivize good driving.
This picture is changing quickly for two reasons. Firstly vehicle tracking can now be done using a smartphone app instead of a dedicated telematics unit. This means almost anyone can track their driving at no additional expense. Secondly, some insurance companies have realized that using tracking technology to incentivize and reward good driving is just good business.
2. Driverless cars
One of the most eagerly anticipated advances in telematics technology is driverless cars. This technology has been trialled on roads around the world, and some elements, like autonomous braking and adaptive cruise control, are already being introduced into high end car models by leading auto manufacturers.
So it’s not a question of if, but when driverless cars will start replacing manually controlled vehicles on the roads. The first phase of this technology is likely to allow drivers to switch between fully autonomous driving and driver control, but as time progresses and the technology behind it improves, driver controlled passenger vehicles are likely to become a thing of the past.
3. Cars as a service
Owning a car has long been one of the foundations of a middle class lifestyle. However, telematics is introducing new car ownership possibilities in the form of cars as a service. Once driverless cars hit the road it will become possible for you to use a smartphone to hail a car whenever you need one – dispensing with the need to maintain, insure and find parking for your own vehicle.
You’ll not only be able to use cars on a pay-as-you go basis, but sign up for car subscriptions that will make specific vehicle makes and models available to you for a specific number of hours every month. Cars as a service will open private transport up to people who would be otherwise unable to afford vehicle ownership, as well as those too young, or old, to have a license.
4. Vehicle to vehicle communication systems
Vehicle to vehicle (V2V) communication systems will enhance the safety of both manually controlled and driverless cars. These systems allow cars to automatically exchange information with nearby vehicles about their speed, location and trajectory. Onboard computers are then able to use this information to calculate the risk of collisions with surrounding cars.
If two vehicles appear to be at a high risk of collision a V2V communication system can either alert a driver to the danger or take control of the car to prevent an accident. These systems have an advantage in that only one vehicle’s system needs to respond appropriately to a potential collision in order to avoid it.
5. Automatic payment systems
While this one may not generate much enthusiasm amongst drivers, automatic payment systems are set to be a fixture of the future. Proposals include using blockchain technology to allow cars and trucks to process payments simply by driving through or past tolling systems. While you can expect to see this technology use in toll gates first, it will also be used for other applications like automatically deducting charges for private or public parking.
The future is here
UbiCar’s telematics insurance app tracks and scores you driving and rewards safe driving with fairer priced car insurance.