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How ACES Is Steering
The Car Into The Future

Automated, Connected, Electric and Shared (ACES) vehicles are coming to a road near you – driven by a revolution in the computer infrastructure to support them

Car manufacturers have traditionally differentiated themselves through their brand values based on design and performance such as horsepower and torque. Over the years, safety and environmental standards have been added to the list of characteristics that consumers consider when choosing a vehicle. Today, visible differentiators – including features such as interior comfort and digital technology – also appear on drivers’ checklists when selecting a car. And as vehicles become more sophisticated, consumers are choosing cars that are rolling hyper-connected devices bristling with digital applications. Educated by their smartphones, consumers are demanding more updates and a continuous increase in and improvement of features. A car is no longer merely a mechanical, electrical monolith but becoming a manageable device as part of the so-called Internet of Things (IoT). “The car is the biggest and one of the most complex IoT devices. Everything that can be digitized will be digitized,” says Ralf Gebhart, Global Automotive at NTT DATA.

Percentage of consumers who feel that increased vehicle connectivity will be beneficial

Source: Ericsson Mobility Report, 2021

Many in the industry see a four-wheeled approach as the future of mobility. Labelled ACES (Automated, Connected, Electric and Shared), the concept updates a number of the existing features of vehicles already on the road. It also introduces some that are more akin to those car-of-the-future visions from decades past. And it is telecommunications and IT companies such as NTT that will provide the technology and industry solutions to open the road ahead.

Automation

Improved and expanded connectivity – between vehicles and their surroundings and back – offers a platform for the A in ACES. “The automation of vehicles has generated a lot of hype in recent years,” says Houssem Abdellatif, Global Automotive at NTT DATA. While driver assistance systems are now routine on many models, he says that poor reliability, extremely high development and unit costs, and legal and regulatory concerns have delayed the development of true self-driving cars.Improved and expanded connectivity – between vehicles and their surroundings and back – offers a platform for the A in ACES. “The automation of vehicles has generated a lot of hype in recent years,” says Houssem Abdellatif, Global Automotive at NTT DATA. While driver assistance systems are now routine on many models, he says that poor reliability, extremely high development and unit costs, and legal and regulatory concerns have delayed the development of true self-driving cars.

Improved IT infrastructure will carry more data faster and more reliably. By offloading some computing processes from the vehicle to a central computing resource in the cloud, this can be achieved more effectively, Abdellatif explains. For example, last year, in a demonstration in Munich, Germany, NTT used a private 5G network to create automated valet parking. Drivers could drop off their connected vehicle at a designated parking garage, where a central computer then used smart infrastructure such as cameras and sensors to park them.

UK adults drive over 2,000 miles in their lifetime looking for a parking space


Source: DirectLine Group, 2020

Connectivity

“With vehicle connectivity, a new means of mobility and business is wide open to serve customers with on-demand features and services using the internet,” Abdellatif says. “Our clients can expect cost savings, increased productivity and more reliable operations.”

He adds that another development could be on the cards. “The business model of car manufacturers may radically change. The car in the future could have an extended use as a platform or device to deliver functions, services and applications that the car user will pay for and own,” he explains. “The key here is software, data and the enabling infrastructure.”

“We are starting to engage with vehicle software suppliers and integrators to establish an end-to-end offering for the ACES domain,” adds Sai Sekar, Global Automotive & Telecom at NTT DATA. “This will enable us to support our clients, to provide a safe and secure driving experience powered by software innovations and assets.”

Data traffic from connected vehicles is expected to be over 1,000 times the present volume, exceeding 10 exabytes by 2025


Source: Forbes, 2021

Electric

Electric vehicles (the E in ACES) are already with us, of course, as vehicle manufacturers accelerate the transition away from polluting combustion engines. Limited connectivity is common, with compatibility with mobile phone networks now a standard feature on new cars. But as the speed and capacity of online data transfer and processing continue to increase in the coming years, vehicle drivers and passengers are going to expect more, and that’s where companies such as NTT come in.

“The future challenges in the ACES mobility and automotive business can only be addressed within an ecosystem context, where manufacturers, suppliers and tech leaders cooperate to create the future,” says Sekar. “NTT is best positioned to provide key elements such as connectivity solutions and hybrid cloud technologies.”

A total of 2.65 million new EVs were bought globally in the first half of 2021, an increase of 168% compared with 2020


Source: EV Volumes.com, 2021

Shared

Shared mobility – the S in ACES – has been the slowest of the four features to develop, perhaps because applications such as ride sharing and ride hailing are hard to monetize and make profitable. “The industry bets this will change soon, especially due to the electrification of the fleet,” Abdellatif says. “One key aspect of vehicle sharing is the aggregation of services to achieve scale effects.”

More powerful IT systems would allow sharing services to reach more people in real time, perhaps encouraging greater acceptance and broader market penetration. “Only this scale effect will make shared mobility profitable,” he adds.

57% of people think ride sharing services will increase in the next decade.

The main reasons given are because it will reduce congestion and benefit the environment

Source: Ericsson

Each of the four features of ACES can work alone and deliver benefits as they improve. But the real goal of developers is to harness the way they can interact and boost each other. Underpinning most of those applications is massively improved communication. In the car of the near future, connectivity will come as standard.

This content was paid for and produced by NTT in partnership with the Commercial Department of the Financial Times

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