DETROIT -- In the age of connected and autonomous vehicles, an AM-FM radio just won’t cut it.
An idle driver sitting in a car that drives itself will be looking for things to read, watch or listen to. The autonomous vehicle content delivery industry could be worth up to $5 billion, said Elliot Garbus, general manager of the transportation solutions division at Intel, at an event hosted by SAE International in suburban Detroit earlier this week.
But that’s looking long term. For the nearer future, in-vehicle content can actually help ease the transition into autonomous driving, Garbus said. A recent survey by AAA shows that 75 percent of people said they were afraid to let an autonomous car drive itself.
Features such as a map that shows passengers what the camera, radar and lidar sensors are picking up can help ease the transition to vehicle-controlled driving from human-controlled operation.
“We need to be able to build trust with the passenger,” Garbus said. “Seeing what the vehicle is seeing builds trust.”
Existing entertainment systems could be developed for more extensive content delivery, Garbus said the estimated multibillion-dollar market could still be up for grabs as consumers develop new habits for riding in self-driving vehicles.
Autonomous vehicles will need to provide in-vehicle computing services -- like the ability to check email, look up nearby restaurants or stream videos -- and 5G connectivity, which is expected to debut within the next five years, Garbus said. Those services can facilitate either business or entertainment services, providing more value to the consumer, he added.
In addition to connectivity, over-the-air software updates will be crucial to developing passenger-friendly content once the steering wheel disappears, said Phillip Eyler, president of the connected car division at Harman International Industries.
“You need a system that’s constantly fresh and up to date,” he said. Automakers like Tesla Motors are already implementing software updates over the air, and Ford said during the conference that it would implement its first such update to its Sync platform by the end of 2016.
Console design will be a driving factor of how quickly consumers embrace the new technology, said Wayne Powell, vice president of the Toyota Technical Center.
“You have to have intuitive, good [human machine interface],” he said.
Though there are still many unknown factors in the roll out of fully autonomous vehicles, Garbus said he predicted content delivery will remain a competitive market.
“No single company has all the pieces required for success,” he said.