Manufacturing

How the “Connected Car” Will Change Detroit

As we approach a future of electronic, connected, and networked automobiles, will Detroit’s auto industry also evolve? Cars are relying more heavily on electronics (the market for electronic systems is expected to grow from $170 billion in 2011 to $263 billion in 2016), and R&D is adapting appropriately, SmartPlanet reports.

The “connected car” of the future will feature entertainment and web connectivity, fuel economy features, and vehicle safety and efficiency improvements—including, for instance, the capability for cars to respond to changes in the environment and act automatically to protect their occupants.

Research by Professor Hongwei Zhang at Wayne State University focuses on the heterogenous networks needed to support the broadband connectivity required for these connected cars. Connected cars must be able to switch seamlessly and consistently between mobile broadband networks, while maintaining safety and performance. The volume of data is also a consideration, as data from in-car systems and embedded sensor networks create added strain on communications infrastructure. Zhang is also collaborating with Ford and its application development efforts.

As SmartPlanet points out, all of these advancements mean that Detroit must evolve to survive as the auto capital of the U.S. Challenges will include recruiting engineering talent and finding investment funds. But if Techonomy’s September conference was any indication, Detroit is more than motivated to rise to the occasion.

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