Bridging the long gap between CES 2023 and CES 2024, AutoTech Detroit marks a productive halfway point through the year for the automotive industry to showcase their latest advances and outlooks in automotive technology. Attended by nearly 2500 industry professionals, 250 exhibitors, dozens of speakers, and 850 companies, AutoTech found itself to be a bustling hub for business discussions, collaboration, and planning for the future. The showing was impressive this year, continuing to prove that the want and need for trade shows was not killed by virtualization born from the Covid-19 pandemic.With such a focused gathering of automotive technology suppliers and OEMs, the content and business of the show was dominated by a few major themes.
Coming up constantly across the panels from many experts ranging from Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T executives, to senior business development leaders across the major OEMS, connected cars and the future of connectivity took center stage during the show. Beginning the show with a bang, AT&T and safety solutions provider Haas Alert announced that cellular data used to provide vehicle safety features would be free in order to facilitate further advancements in safety oriented connectivity. Marking a major shift from prior policies, the cooperation between a major service provider and safe-software suppliers will open up a vital opportunity for cost-effective development of cutting edge safety features as further regulations are placed on OEMs both in the United States and abroad. Interestingly, these safety features are applicable beyond in-car use, additionally being able to communicate with pedestrians and warn of oncoming traffic or other hazards. Linking the two groups in such a way could drastically reduce the number of accidents between cars and pedestrians, saving countless lives on a yearly basis. Connected car was presented as an answer to the next generation of questions concerning the safety of drivers and passengers of the newest personal vehicles.
Moreover, AI based algorithms for insurance, condition monitoring, and emergency services were presented by OEMs and suppliers as accurate solutions for some of automotive technology’s most pressing issues. A speaker from Mercedes-Benz USA informed listeners at a June 7 panel that an onboard analysis of ADAS incidents could be used to notify authorities in an event of an emergency such as a driver seizure.
Other companies like MOTER Technologies presented the ability to create advanced driver behavior based insurance in real time using edge processing in order to process data at the car, transmitting less data from the car, saving cost and mitigating privacy issues at the same time. MOTER is the first company to obtain approval for this form of high-tech driver’s insurance in the US, so a revolution in affordable insurance is on the cusp of taking the industry by storm. Topics covering the connected car’s efficacy and benefits took up a significant amount of AutoTech’s bandwidth, making clear to manufacturers and suppliers where the future of the auto industry lies.
Beyond the importance of safety, software defined vehicles were a preeminent topic examined by almost all attendees across the show floor. Industry experts noted repeatedly that software within vehicles is coming to define the consumer experience, and that customers are demanding more and better software-based features out of their cars. Some questions continue to surround the method of entertainment for owners of EVs at charging stations, in which they may find themselves needing to be occupied for one to two hours while their car recharges. For example, BMW recently announced a partnership with AirConsole that allows driver’s of their vehicles to play a collection of curated video games while they wait for their EV to charge, by using their Smartphone as a game controller.
Further, new methods of bundling entertainment as OEM controlled subscriptions were floated by panelists from automakers and major studios, perhaps opening the gate to significant changes to the way content is viewed by the driver and passengers in a car. Similarly, as the debate around the future of AM and FM continues to divide the automotive world, up and coming audio services sought to make their mark and move in to snap up the market share of in-vehicle audio listeners. AutoTech presented the reality of the entertainment space as a crucial piece of the software puzzle for OEMs, one which had to be answered well enough to meet the consumer’s growing needs.
Like CES in January, AutoTech was an environment of businesses coming together to present real solutions to current problems. AutoTech proved that the auto industry is actively making the leap into next generation connected car and software defined vehicle technology. Business models continue to evolve, and the breakneck pace of development was spurred on by the myriad of ready-for-market services and innovations covering all facets of the market from insurance to in-car entertainment. The excitement and importance of the AutoTech Detroit event on the calendar should not be underestimated, allowing industry professionals the opportunity to easily peer into the future of tomorrow’s automotive world today.