Mobile phone company, Nokia have started a fund to support the self driving (autonomous) car and connected car technology sector’s growth. The company has the joined the likes of Apple, Google and Intel in spending millions on the connected and smart vehicle market, which includes self driving cars.
What is an autonomous or connected car?
An autonomous car is a vehicle which can fulfil the human transportation capabilities of a traditional car. As an autonomous vehicle, it is capable of sensing its environment and navigating without human input, through use of techniques such as radar, lidar, GPS and computer vision. Robotic cars exist mainly as prototypes and demonstration systems. Currently, the only self driving vehicles that are commercially available are open-air shuttles for pedestrian zones that operate at 12.5mph.
A connected car or smart vehicle, allows drivers to control apps installed on a smartphone or tablet from their vehicle’s dashboard. As well as making driving more practical, connected cars and smart vehicles would, in theory, make driving safer because they can sense or collect data on nearby cars or objects that are a potential hazard.
Why are Nokia investing in connected cars?
The $100 million fund, the Finnish phone company have launched is to be used to invest in firms specialising in the growing sector. Mapping services is one of three key business areas in the connected and smart vehicle sector that Nokia plans to target and the fund, which will be managed by Nokia Growth Partners (NGP), will support the market’s development. Nokia has already established itself in this market with it’s HERE sat nav mapping service for connected vehicles, a smartphone navigation app that can be used while driving.
Comments on the connected car sector
Paul Asel, partner at NGP, commented, “For the last few years there has been a surge in innovation that has brought technological advances leading to safer, cleaner, increasingly connected, intelligent and more affordable vehicles. Vehicles are becoming a new platform for technology adoption very similar to phones or tablet.”
As more vehicles become connected, companies specialising in this sector could potentially grow larger and businesses like Google, Android and Intel have already plugged themselves into the market. Google has also recently announced a partnership with Audi, Honda and Hyundai where it would integrate it’s Android operating system into car dashboards.
Likewise, Apple’s CarPlay system will allow drivers to connect their iPhones to their cars. Vehicles with the CarPlay technology will let drivers use Apple Maps, make calls or play music either with voice commands or by touching a vehicle’s dashboard screen. Intel also announced that it is investing $100m into speeding up the development of internet connected cars.