Cisco broadens automotive strategy

  • 24-Sep-2013 08:48 EDT

Cisco and Continental plan to let vehicles connect using various communication technologies.

One of the largest communications companies, Cisco, is moving to gain a position in the rapidly emerging field of connected vehicles. Joint programs with Continental and NXP Semiconductors highlight Cisco’s plans to make the automotive industry part of its Internet of Everything strategy.

Early this fall, Continental and Cisco showcased a concept vehicle with multiple layers of connectivity. An in-vehicle system switches between cellular links, Wi-Fi, and dedicated short range communications (DSRC).

“We feel there will be a mix of access technologies: 3G, 4G, wireless, and DSRC,” said Andreas Mai, Cisco’s Director Product Management for Smart Connected Vehicles. “The future will see systems that are platform agnostic to the network they connect to. They will choose connections based on the best quality or the best price. Transport optimization can improve speeds by 30 to 50%.”

The Cisco-Continental demonstration uses a single system that switches between cellular and Wi-Fi for telematics links that bring in a range of infotainment options. It will also augment safety systems via DSRC, which is being tested as a technology to let cars talk to each other and to roadside infrastructure stations.

Cisco’s interest in DSRC connectivity also prompted a move early this year, when Cisco and NXP Semiconductors partnered to invest in Cohda Wireless, which specializes in intelligent transportation systems and vehicle-to-vehicle/-infrastructure communications.

Many others also predict solid growth for DSRC. ABI Research recently predicted that penetration into new vehicles will increase from just over 10% in 2018 to 70% in 2027.

In another auto-related move, Cisco ran a consumer survey focused on automotive buyer attitudes in the spring. Cisco’s researchers covered many topics, finding that 83% of potential buyers gathered vehicle data using the Internet. Cisco also said 74% would let insurance companies monitor their driving to get discounts, 57% would ride in an autonomous vehicle, and 60% would provide biometric information for car security.

Security is a central component in the Cisco-Continental demonstration. Cisco provides a secure software gateway based on Cisco’s commercial networking capabilities. Security against cyber attacks will become more important as more connected functions are brought to vehicles, Mai said.

The duo plan to make it easy for everyone in the vehicle to connect to the outside world. That meshes with Cisco’s Internet of Everything strategy, in which all sorts of products will add connectivity.

Routers in the vehicle will have two Wi-Fi alternatives, one within the car and one that connects to networks in gas stations, coffee shops, or elsewhere. The system will also have software that lets drivers fine-tune these connections depending on what they’re doing.

“We also let drivers prioritize their communications,” Mai said. “If they’re on a family trip, their priorities will be different than when they’re on a business trip.”

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