We often group Connected and Autonomous Vehicles together under the same acronym as ‘CAVs’. But, connected vehicles and autonomous vehicles are not the same.
Autonomous vehicles are vehicles that can perform some or all functions without intervention from a human driver. It’s forecasted that we’ll see over 8 million autonomous or semi-autonomous vehicles by 2025.
In most cases, autonomous vehicles are also connected vehicles, but not all connected vehicles are autonomous. Most autonomous vehicles have connected sensors such as lane departure or blind spot detection, but not all connected vehicles have autonomous functionalities.
Not all autonomous vehicles are created equal. There are 6 levels of vehicle autonomy:
Most car manufacturers have already started to include hardware that supports higher levels of autonomous driving. In most cases, a firmware update can be pushed to enable more autonomous features to go live once various governments and legal jurisdictions allow higher levels of autonomy to operate on road networks.
You can also read our blog post about the 7 different kinds of vehicle connectivity.
Connected vehicles help to inform autonomous-ready networks because the data they provide helps to map coverage, where autonomous systems are failing, and under what conditions they are failing.
For example, connected vehicle data can help identify where signage is hard to identify or obscured by other objects, or identify areas in the network where additional intelligent infrastructure might be needed to support widespread roll-out of autonomous vehicles.
Connected Vehicles are part of the ITS and IoT ecosystems.
Internet of Things (IoT) describes physical objects or ‘things’ that have sensors, software, and other technology embedded in them, often with an internet or Bluetooth connection. These objects extend beyond vehicles or transport - most Smart Home appliances ranging from Google Home, dynamic lighting, smart fridges, and even toasters are all part of the IoT ecosystem. Connected cars include similar kinds of technology, connectivity, and software, making them part of IoT.
Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) is part of the IoT network that relates specifically to roads, vehicles, and road infrastructure. The goal of ITS is to improve road network efficiency and safety by digitising parts of the infrastructure. It takes advantage of new technology that falls under IoT such as sensors and new bi-directional data transfer between other cars and parts of the physical road network.
The growth in tech-enabled devices, including connected vehicles, has largely been facilitated by an expansion of internet and data networks and their speeds. The new 5G connectivity rollout is also driving growth, facilitating faster uptake of IoT devices at larger scale and greater speed.