Nokia’s Recent Investment in the Smart Car Field
Nokia, perhaps Finland’s best known brand, may be popular the world over for its cell phones. However, all that is about to change. The Finnish company recently sold its mobile phone operations to the IT giant Microsoft and is looking to invest $100 million from the sale into the field of smart cars. According to CNET, the division in charge of this shift in perspective is Nokia Growth Partners, the venture capital group at Nokia.
Nokia already established its presence in the auto electronics market segment by delivering mapping and navigation data for GPS devices/satellite navigation systems. Both the company’s Navteq division and its ‘Here’ brand have been active in the car electronics market. The advent of the smart car will transform our driving experience far beyond mere satellite navigation. As company representatives told Bloomberg, Nokia wants to be a part of this change in communication paradigms that mobility and the Internet are bringing to the auto market. In plain English, it is likely looking to invest into connected, autonomous cars.
Forget the Jetsons. The smart cars of the future promise to be far more intelligent than anything fiction has imagined thus far. Here are a few smart car technology concepts currently in the works:
Obviously, Nokia is not the first brand to catch on to the tremendous potential of the smart car. In late April, Google announced it made major progress in developing its own smart vehicles. The Google robo-car is self-driving. According to company representatives, it can now signal bicyclists. It can also safely navigate through and/or around railroad crossings, areas with abundant vegetation or numerous pedestrians, intersections, construction zones, and parked cars. The car’s computer essentially maps out the surrounding environment as a series of wireframe objects which it places virtual fences around. The car won’t move until the obstacle standing in its path has safely moved out of the way.
Another development in store for the future of vehicles is car-to-car communication. The US government has already taken a stance on this concept and deemed it beneficial for improving traffic safety. It is expected to reduce the number of accidents, lower fuel consumption levels, and speed up travel. Officials say they will push for legislation “in a future year” to enable wireless communication between moving cars. It’s important to note that the Google self-driving car does not rely on this technology.
What if the smart cars of the future could link up in a train-like group and travel together? According to Sweden’s Sartre project, this would tremendously improve driving conditions and traffic safety. In September 2013, the project was tested by linking three computer-controlled cars to a truck driven by a human. If the project proves viable, it could mean that, in the future, cars would be able to drive bumper to bumper at speeds as high as 75mph, thus increasing the overall speed of travel on the world’s freeways.
Sensor-packed high-tech powerhouses
Google’s self-driving cars will be equipped with heavy-duty quad-core PCs, processing some 13 million laser measurements in a single second and also taking 20 driving decision within the same span of time. Microcontrollers will be in command of the smart car’s systems for traction control, their engines, airbags, and antilock brakes. Smart cars can already parallel park themselves and detect radio/light waves beyond the human power of detection. They will also likely be equipped with radars, stereo cameras, and rain detectors on the windshield wipers!
Nokia Growth partner, Paul Asel, explained at the Global Mobile Internet Conference, which took place in early May, that cars are turning into technology platforms before our very eyes. The process is similar to the one that phones undertook when smartphones first emerged; nowadays, smart devices may appear ordinary and common place. This smart technology will eventually give way to the smart car. Many people are already taking note of the way Google’s smart car will alter driving as we know it. In its turn, General Motors also announced it is developing its very own smart car. Nissan promised to deliver its own autonomous vehicles by 2020.
Throughout it all, Google has also garnered a lot of criticism from both the IT industry as well as from representatives of the automotive industry. The company has been accused of seeking gratuitous publicity by making wide-eyed, unrealistic promises as to the date at which its smart cars will become available for the great public. It’s also been blamed of pulling the wool over the public’s eyes so it could continue to “take over the Internet” without being bothered. However, the fact of the matter remains that Google, alongside General Motors, Nissan, and now Nokia, are already underway with investing in the new smart car technology.
This breakthrough in driving will likely require updating several networking technologies. 3G, 4G and Bluetooth will probably carry over into vehicle computing, once it becomes yet another facet of personal computer. However, new technologies will likely emerge in order to facilitate V2V (vehicle to vehicle) and V2I (vehicle to infrastructure) communication.
There you have it, people. The future of driving. We should have a new daily deal for you this afternoon, so be on the look out for that. Don’t forget, we have a BurnWorld Facebook page. If you have a moment, stop in and tell us what you think of the article. Will self-driving cars fill the streets 20 years from now? Is this just a passing fad? Has technology gone to far with these smart cars? Let us know your thoughts, we want to hear them.