Many cars already feature Internet connectivity, enabling drivers to retrieve e-mails, conduct a Google search, request remote diagnosis from a shop following a breakdown, or display empty parking places. But there are many manufacturers taking an additional step to develop vehicles that not only receive data, but can also actively send messages.
One such example is the European Commission’s emergency eCall system, which is on target for installation in every new car by 2015. The aim of the program is to reduce the number of road casualties, and the eCall system does this by supplementing the vehicle's on-board electronics with a permanently-installed SIM card and GPS module. These additional connectivity features link emergency calls to the airbag sensors, so that if an accident occurs, information about the vehicle’s location, time of the accident and identification number can be sent to rescue services, along with the driving directions, severity of the accident and even the number of fastened seatbelts within the vehicle. Consequently, rescue services can send help to the accident site immediately or establish a voice connection with the vehicle. This technology is a testament to the European Commission’s claim that its eCall international emergency system could save around 2,500 lives a year and estimates that it will also result in a 15% drop in the number of casualties involving seriously injured persons.
In-car M2M solutions have also been developed to make life easier for drivers, such as Daimler’s car2go project in Austin, Texas (screen shot of the project site pictured nearby). Members have a card that they can use to reserve a vehicle ahead of time or as transport is required. They do this by simply holding their card up to a specially-installed reader on the windshield of car2go’s branded blue and white smart cars, which are located all over downtown Austin. Once inside the vehicle, the card requests the member’s secure login pin and is used to start