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March 15, 2017updated 14 Mar 2017 10:40am

Autonomous cars and intelligent edge

If you were try and drive a car from one hundred years ago you’d probably manage pretty well. The gears, without synchromesh, might crunch a bit and you might find it hard work to use unassisted brakes. But the pedals, levers and steering wheel would all be in the expected places.

By John Oates

Fast forward from today and it seems certain that the changes will be far more radical. The car industry is going through a period of serious digital disruption. Power sources are changing from internal combustion engines to hybrid, electric and hydrogen units.

Cars are increasingly ‘intelligent’ and have at least some ability to drive themselves even if it is only parking or staying in lane or at a set speed.

Research from HPE, called Automotive.nxt, looks at just what this change will mean for the industry.

It doesn’t just mean doing your old job differently. If we move to electric vehicles then manufacturers will need to do more than just pump out the vehicles efficiently. Car makers will have to work with local and national governments to create the charging infrastructure to support the vehicles.

As we move to more sophisticated self-driving vehicles companies will have to engage deeply with government and consumers on regulations and ethical considerations.

This digitally driven change is already have huge impacts on the industry as a whole.

Consumers increasingly want car transport to be just another service. They pay a per month fee for a guaranteed and serviced vehicle rather than making a big purchase which they then maintain.

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Or they pay by the hour for a car – with or without a driver.

Today’s drivers expect ongoing support and new cars now come with the ability to receive ‘over-the-air’ software updates as required.

Digital transformation means not just a different kind of car. It looks likely to create an entirely new kind of industry which functions on new business models.

Which doesn’t mean we should discount the established car manufacturers. They have already seen digital disruption turn manufacturing and logistics on its head.

They might be best placed to take most advantage of the changes that are coming.

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