The great late Stephen Hawking once said: “We are now all connected by the Internet like neurons in a giant brain."
Beyond being able to check our social media channels wherever we are, that interconnectivity functions as a multiplier with the potential to make our shared information many times more powerful than the sum of its parts. And much as the human brain has evolved over millennia into the highly intelligent and sophisticated network that it now is, our digital networks will continue to develop vastly.
“While advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and autonomous driving functions can work using fusion of onboard sensors alone, the true benefits and added value will come from the exchange of information with the broader outside world using networked communications that will most likely involve a combination of dedicated backends and the cloud," says Tim VanGoethem, Vice President of Advanced Mobility Solutions in HARMAN's Corporate Technology Group.
"Ignite's flexibility and modularity is the only sustainable way to structure the kind of networking that will be required to fully integrate the automobile into the rapidly increasing flow of data."
According to VanGoethem, facilitating this exchange of information within the Internet of Things is by far the most pressing issue in the development of new mobility models, be it autonomous vehicles, shared mobility or intermodal transport.
“Right now, the HARMAN Ignite platform is leading the way," says VanGoethem. “Rigid, singular structures can't work in the medium to long term. Ignite's flexibility and modularity is the only sustainable way to structure the kind of networking that will be required to fully integrate the automobile into the rapidly increasing flow of data."
The company's Conformal Antenna is another crucial technology. Multiple systems from different suppliers will require two-way network access via mobile communications, which calls for multiple antennas – or one antenna that performs the function of many.
“HARMAN's Conformal Antenna can already combine the functionality of 14 separate antennas in one uniform, sleek package," says Tim VanGoethem, adding: “Together with our parent company Samsung, we are working on integrating this with our 4/5G TCU within a single smart unit."
This kind of system integration will become increasingly important as digital complexity intensifies and the number of networked systems grows. For automakers, vehicle networking is an indispensable enabler of their future business models that will deliver substantial benefits to their own products and operations. For consumers, it will make travel more convenient and efficient, drastically improve road safety and provide a vastly enhanced user experience. And for the world in general, it will mean a far more efficient and effective use of resources.