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Building New Connected Car Features on the Back of a Robust Connectivity Platform

by Stefan Kiendl
15 min read

A modern connected car creates up to 25GB of data per year, up from a few hundred megabytes per year just a few years back. The traffic consists of command/control data to control functions remotely, telemetry data to provide diagnostics, and bulk data such as software updates, map data, entertainment streaming, and more. 

Consumers see value in connected cars, and a 2020 consumer survey from McKinsey showed that 37 percent would switch car brands for better connected car features. The key to successfully building platforms with cutting-edge features that appeal to customers is a modern data and connectivity infrastructure that can support the volume, velocity, and variety of data generated by connected cars. 

Many OEMs and automotive manufacturers face challenges regarding reliable connectivity and building the right communication and data infrastructure for connected car services, which can result in poor customer experience or go-to-market delays. At HiveMQ, we have worked with many customers to develop and deploy cutting-edge connected car services. We have seen firsthand the benefits of building on a robust and state-of-the-art connectivity and data infrastructure. 

In this post, we’ll first explore the foundational technology pieces to put in place, and second, the types of new connected car features that can be enabled as a result.

Build a Scalable, Flexible, and Reliable Architecture for Connectivity

The volume of data generated by connected cars is substantial. Choosing a data architecture that can scale to meet the demands of your connected car services and connected customer fleet is essential. You face a myriad of technical challenges including unreliable network connectivity, massive load peaks during rush hours, network latency, a lack of instant and bi-directional data movement, security, and enterprise integrations. 

Overcoming these challenges is essential since a key criterion for connected car services is pervasive availability. Customers demand to be able to access services like listening to their favorite music on command, checking electric vehicle battery state, or observing traffic information in a timely and reliable manner. The mechanisms you choose to connect, collect, and move data must be reliable 24/7 over any other feature. 

Event-driven architectures, specifically publish-subscribe IoT messaging, is flexible and elastic enough to accommodate new data sources and changing connectivity requirements. At HiveMQ, we’ve built our business around MQTT, the leading IoT protocol for data movement. There is a reason so many of our customers are also adopting MQTT in the connected car and mobility space.  

MQTT is ideally suited for connected car use cases thanks to the combination of low bandwidth usage, low latency, secure communication, and a publish-subscribe model. The importance of low bandwidth usage can’t be overstated, as cellular costs are massive for a connected car fleet, and an efficient protocol can mean a difference of millions of dollars per year.

In addition to the financial benefits, building an architecture on not only a flexible IoT protocol like MQTT but with a scalable and reliable MQTT platform like HiveMQ helps customers overcome all of the technical challenges of sending large amounts of connected car data over intermittent networks.

Car Connectivity Platform with HiveMQIn the architecture above, the connected car platform sits on the foundation of HiveMQ’s MQTT platform, with MQTT brokers and a control center in place, to move data between cars, mobile devices, and backend systems. Depending on their needs, customers can choose to host in the cloud, on-premise, or even use HiveMQ Cloud Dedicated as a fully managed, zero-care offering.  

It’s a simple architecture but highly effective due to the following benefits:

Persistent Always-on Client Connection: The MQTT publish/subscribe architecture enables a persistent, always-on push connection to the cloud. If the network connection is lost, the vehicle will automatically reconnect when the network is available, and HiveMQ will buffer the data until it can be delivered - no messages lost.

Guaranteed and Reliable Data Delivery: HiveMQ implements three message delivery quality of service levels to guarantee data delivery. This level of reliability is essential for connected car services that rely on timely delivery, such as critical command/control functions.

Push Capabilities: The push capabilities of MQTT enable real-time data transfer from connected cars to backend servers or other connected devices. This means vehicles can send data to the server as soon as it is available without waiting for the server to request it. 

Secure non-addressable clients: Cars running MQTT clients are not addressable over the Internet, so they are not exposed to hackers. The MQTT client running on each car is responsible for establishing a secure, encrypted, persistent TCP connection, using state-of-the-art encryption technology (TLS).

Elastic Scalability and Auto Heal: HiveMQ’s design automatically scales up and down the number of cluster nodes required to service millions of connected cars, especially during rush hour peaks. Thanks to this elastic, clustered design the user doesn’t see any reduction in their experience. 

Preserves CPU Cycles: MQTT keeps the client simple, which is a plus in connected car architectures as it requires less electronic control unit power so the CPU cycles can be used for something more customer-worthy.

Open API and Extension Framework: HiveMQ delivers an open API and extension framework that can integrate HiveMQ and vehicles’ telemetry data with existing enterprise IT systems and deploy advanced security measures and architectures. 

With this modern connectivity infrastructure, you can implement a range of connected car features to enhance the driving experience, make it safer, and provide greater value to drivers and operators. 

Enabling Cutting-Edge Connected Car Features

Here are some of the connected car features that a company can implement on the back of this modern connectivity and data infrastructure:

Real-Time Traffic Updates: Real-time traffic updates can provide drivers with up-to-date information about traffic conditions, including congestion, accidents, and road closures. This can help drivers make more informed decisions about their routes, reducing travel time and improving the driving experience. The one-to-many communication pattern of publish-subscribe, for instance, implemented with subscriptions using geographical partitioning of the land, makes MQTT an ideal fit for such use cases.

Remote Diagnostics: Remote diagnostics allow companies to monitor the performance and health of connected cars in real-time, providing valuable insights into the vehicle’s condition. This can help improve vehicle maintenance and reduce the need for physical inspections. The asynchronous nature of MQTT supports long-running jobs such as remote diagnosis perfectly.

Personalized In-Vehicle Experiences: With the help of modern technology infrastructure, companies can personalize the in-vehicle experience for drivers and passengers, tailoring everything from navigation routes to entertainment options to individual preferences.

Electric Mobility Services: E-mobility features include battery charging, battery preconditioning, eRoute navigation along a charging network, and the gamification of efficient driving. Event-driven updates (e.g. reaching a pre-defined battery charge level) are easy to implement with the asynchronous messaging in MQTT.

Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS): ADAS are advanced systems that help drivers avoid accidents and improve safety on the road. Features such as lane departure warning systems, forward collision warning systems, and automatic emergency braking can help reduce the risk of accidents and improve road safety.

Infotainment Systems: Connected car infotainment systems can provide drivers and passengers with access to various entertainment and information services, such as navigation and weather updates. Streaming of audio and video frames is better done over purpose-built protocols, and MQTT is complementary as the control channel.

Remote Vehicle Access: Remote vehicle access enables drivers to control certain aspects of their vehicles from their smartphones or other devices. This can include features such as remote climate, remote ventilation, remote start, remote locking, and vehicle finder. MQTT enables these features due to its high reliability, push capabilities and asynchronous nature, which can even work well with power cycles and wake-up of control units on standby.

Predictive Maintenance: Predictive maintenance involves using machine learning algorithms to analyze data from connected cars to predict when maintenance is needed. This can help reduce downtime, improve vehicle safety, and extend the lifespan of a vehicle.

With a solid connectivity and data infrastructure in place, companies can implement these and other connected car features that can provide greater value to drivers and passengers and improve the overall driving experience and brand perception. HiveMQ is here to help you build these features with MQTT broker software and HiveMQ Cloud; designed to meet the demands of connected car services and other IoT and M2M initiatives. Contact us today to learn more.

Stefan Kiendl

Stefan Kiendl was the Director of Cloud Engineering at HiveMQ. Stefan’s previous experience includes holding various technology leadership roles at BMW, Vodafone, NTT DATA and Continental. He is passionate about systems thinking, innovative architecture, mentoring startups, and supporting entrepreneurs to succeed in the technology industry.

  • Contact Stefan Kiendl via e-mail

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