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How to extract M2M automotive data

11 Jun 2013  | David Levine

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The automotive industry is in the midst of a significant change as the benefits of wireless machine-to-machine (M2M) technology begin to be realised. Manufacturers, dealers, insurers, and service providers can use M2M to drive down operating costs, comply with new regulation, improve the user experience, and generate revenue streams in new and compelling ways.

Service providers and OEMs are taking on the challenge that results in extracting the most relevant data from a complex moving environment like a vehicle. Modern cars are becoming increasingly computerised.

Since the introduction of anti-lock braking systems (ABS) and electronically regulated fuel injection in the 1980s more and more sophisticated electronic devices have emerged. In order to satisfy evolving consumer demands and create differentiation, car manufacturers have to move into areas away from their core competency of making cars and bring in expertise from other industries such as telecommunications.

A typical car now contains complex electronic systems designed to control emissions and fuel-economy standards, provide advanced diagnostics as well as other features such as parking aids, climate control and navigation functions. The increased use of electronics is only set to continue as the presence of hybrid and electric vehicles, as well as more advanced infotainment systems, become more commonplace.

As a result of the proliferation of in-vehicle electronics, cars now also produce masses of data. Every second a car is on the road, computers inside the vehicle collect information on speed, distance, engine performance and other variables.

Until recently, this data did not typically leave the vehicle and was used for the most part to support in-car information services, such as fuel measurement and diagnostic warning systems. The only time it was extracted and analysed was when it was in the garage for a service.

The age of machine-to-machine
With the rise in use of M2M technology, vehicle OEMs are now looking into how this valuable data can be gathered in real-time and used to provide additional services such as usage-based insurance, remote diagnostics and more accurate traffic services. The car has now become part of a wider ecosystem that includes software makers, mobile networks and M2M specialists.

Working out how to extract data from the car is an engineering challenge that companies like Vodafone are taking on in partnership with OEMs and tier-one manufacturers. Vodafone is a M2M service provider and complete end-to-end machine-to-machine (M2M) integrator. That means we can send the data from the car via a secure mobile connection to back-end servers where it can then be interpreted and used to deliver more services.

This process of creating a two-way link between the car and back-end systems is a real challenge for engineers for a number of reasons. Firstly and most importantly, it's a new development; engineers are breaking ground with every M2M integration project. A vehicle is a complex environment to work in and every model of vehicle is different.

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