Why Students Learning How to Become a Mechanic Should Know About Connected Cars
Connectivity is a theme of modern life in the developed world and the automobile is no exception. Today, many cars are like giant computers on wheels thanks to their increased connectivity and drivers increasingly view such connectivity as an essential need.
That’s hardly surprising given that the International Telecommunications Union has found that there are now more mobile phones than people on the planet. As someone pursuing a career as a mechanic, you’ll want to understand how this plays into the auto industry. Read on for what you should know about connected automobiles.
A History of Connected Cars for Auto Technology School Grads
The first connected cars focused on safety and security, most notably through OnStar, which was launched in 1996. A collaboration between GM, Electronic Data Systems and Hughes Electronics Corporation, OnStar was initially used to notify emergency services of accidents. OnStar evolved over the years to include vehicle diagnostics, directions, stolen vehicle slowdown, Wi-Fi and more. As an auto technician, you may find that as technology progresses, more drivers come to you for maintenance based on alerts like these.
Today, connected cars use machine to machine (M2M) communication, which allows them to connect to multiple devices as part of the Internet of Things. And vehicles continue to get smarter. For example, Audi’s Vehicle to Infrastructure (V2I) traffic light reading technology lets drivers catch more green lights. Tesla’s Summon feature, meanwhile, allows drivers to summon their car remotely via their smartphone.
Auto Technicians May See Reduced Distracted Driving with Connected Cars
You may already know from speaking with experts in auto technology school that distracted driving is a major cause of accidents. Drivers who check their phones while driving are 8 times more likely to be in a car crash, according to the CAA. Ironically, greater connectivity could be the solution to the distracted driving problem.
That’s because connected cars have active safety features, which differ from traditional passive safety features like seat belts and air bags. Passive features only become active until they are needed, such as in a car accident. Active safety features, however, are designed to prevent accidents before they happen. These active features include things like forward collision warning, lane departure warning and adaptive cruise control.
Predictive Maintenance Can Affect Stock and Repairs
The process for repairing an unconnected car can be long. First, it needs to be taken to a technician who examines the vehicle, the technician then determines what is wrong, then orders parts if they don’t already have them on hand, and fixes the vehicle when those parts arrive. With connectivity, fixing an issue is a much faster process.
Dealerships can monitor connected cars remotely, for example, and predict when an issue may arise. Drivers are alerted to potential issues so required parts can be ordered ahead of time and the issue can be addressed before it becomes a problem. This impacts management of stock as instead of having large amounts of parts at all times so as not to run out, dealerships can order parts as needed.
Furthermore, as data about a vehicle can be accessed through its computer systems, technicians don’t always have to rely on even looking under the hood to diagnose a problem. In some cases, they can simply plug a tool into a port in the vehicle to find out what issues the car may be having. This can end up saving you a lot of time and trouble when you become a technician.
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