The forecast has automakers buzzing. As they accelerate spending on developing self-driving cars, they’re devoting enormous attention on what to do with data that those high-tech devices generate — beyond making the drive automated. Among the possibilities: selling details about driving patterns to real estate developers or using it in personalized insurance calculations.
But the road to such a future could be more treacherous than traditional giants of the auto industry expect. They’re assuming the costs of sensors will fall enough to justify data collection efforts. They’re betting they can easily transfer the data, though it could be thousands of times the volume discharged by smartphones. And they’re hoping their role — and moneymaking potential — in the new realm isn’t marginalized.
The challenge comes from Silicon Valley breathing down the neck of the old guard. Younger auto rivals Tesla Motors, NextEV, Faraday Future and even Apple could have a head start on reinventing the technical guts of cars to pair with smartphone-grade software.
Automakers tell NextEV U.S. Chief Executive Padmasree Warrior that they’re bulking up software development teams. The former chief technology officer at Cisco Systems and Motorola tells them that’s good, but insufficient.
“Because of the heritage they have, it’s hard to say, ‘How can I build this from ground zero?’ ” Warrior said in an interview at the LA Auto Show. “They are trying to look at it as, ‘Can I just get the software and put it on an existing hardware platform,’ and I’m (making) the point it never works that way.”