At this year’s CES in Las Vegas, everything from heart monitors to kitchen appliances, cars and watering equipment for your garden has one thing in common: they all connect to the Internet of Things in some way or other. This, claim the manufacturers behind all these products, will make our world smarter, safer and more convenient for everyone.
German electronics manufacturer and tier-one automotive parts supplier Bosch is no exception. During a 45-minute long press conference this morning at the Mandalay Bay Conference Center, Dr. Volkmar Denner, Chairman of the Board of Management of the Bosch Group, unveiled the company’s vision for a ‘simply connected world’ in which always-on Internet connections make our homes, our cities and our cars smarter and better connected.
That includes fully-autonomous vehicles, capable of taking over chores like driving the daily commute as well as help reduce congestion and pollution in our cities, prevent accidents and even turn on our home central heating systems or household appliances so that our homes are ready for our return home every evening.
What’s more, Denner said, that future is closer than we think, with Bosch promising it will have developed all of the technology to make fully automated driverless valet parking by 2018 and predicting the first cars will full autonomy will hit the market in 2020.
“Nowhere is connectivity set to revolutionize our lives as much as with connected driving,” said Denner. “Connected vehicles are safer and more efficient, and make drivers’ lives easier. These days, we can hardly imagine a life without the Internet — and soon that will be true of the Internet in the car as well.”
Connected vehicle technology, Denner explained, means that cars “can see ahead — further than any sensor,” making them intrinsically safer to use than non-connected cars.
It’s a phenomenon we’ve already seen demonstrated in the real-world with Tesla and its autopilot software capabilities. In the case of the Tesla Model S and Tesla Model X, customers’ cars not only sense the world around them but pass on their experiences, the mistakes they make (and the lessons learned from those mistakes) to other Tesla cars in the area.
Working as a hive mind, each connected car gets smarter as time progresses, avoiding congestion, routing around accidents and taking weather-appropriate behavior when hazards are reported by other vehicles.
That connected mobility also works in the parking lot, said Denner, with vehicles communicating with one another and with smart sensors in parking lots to ensure that cars can find convenient parking spaces quickly and easily.
“With automated valet parking, all you’ll have to do is leave your vehicle at a designated drop-off zone inside a parking garage. From there, the car will find a vacant space on its own, saving time and fuel,” he said. “By 2020, the Bosch highway pilot will be ready for production. This is a highly automated function that will assume control of the car [on] freeways.”
These cars will also include the ability to interact with the smart home, Denner said, turning on your home heating system or air conditioning to ensure your home is at a comfortable temperature for your return without wasting energy by keeping the heating on all day in your absence.
Of course, the technology being presented by Bosch today is an evolutionary rather than revolutionary step from some of the technology we’ve seen from Bosch in the past. Indeed, we’ve seen similar technologies from other automakers already.
But as Bosch’s fully-connected technologies get closer to market, there’s a reason we should sit up and take notice: Bosch is a big automotive parts supplier.
Bosch — like rival company Delphi — isn’t interested in making its own autonomous cars beyond the prototypes being used to develop autonomous vehicle technology. But when those technologies have been perfected and can be produced in large quantities, we’ll start to see autonomous drive technology become a must-have feature for an increasingly large number of new vehicles.
And not just high-end luxury cars, either.
We’ll be talking to Bosch later on this week at CES, so be sure to leave your thoughts and questions in the Comments below.
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