We keep hearing about the Internet of Things, but now Volvo has come up with a simple, practical application that will make the roads safer for its customers by the end of the year.

Essentially when a Volvo S90 or XC90 encounters icy roads and tricky conditions, it will warn nearby drivers with a Cloud-based system developed in partnership with Ericsson. It will also provide warnings when a car has activated its hazard lights and could be parked in a dangerous place on the road.

Others have beaten Volvo to the punch

It isn’t the first such system, Mercedes already has something similar in active service on the E-Class. Toyota has gone one step further and does operate car-to-car communication that warns about potential obstacles and hazards.

Cadillac, Jaguar and Audi are working on similar systems and there is a good chance that every major manufacturer will have this kind of early-warning system on their cars before too long. As with self-driving technology, though, the likes of Google, Apple and Nvidia could well come up with something better and we may find branded and tailored versions of the same hardware on offer.

How big a problem is privacy?

Volvo’s system skirts privacy issues that are becoming an increasingly common talking point by communicating with the Cloud, rather than each other. Directing all the communications through a central source also allows Volvo to analyze the traffic and streamline the processes, so it can decide how to distribute warnings and information to the drivers that need it most.

For instance, as a start point it may simply distribute information to drivers in a set vicinity of an incident or hazard. As time goes on, though, it can eliminate drivers that are heading in the opposite direction, or on a different route, with a series of changes to the algorithms. So Volvo drivers will get the information that matters and the system will filter out the warnings that just don’t affect them.

Eventually, the Internet of Things will go well beyond single marques and the road itself should relay warnings like this to the car. The machine can then crank up the traction control, slow down or take a different route in response. So this system from Volvo is a taste of things to come, but really it’s an hors d’oeuvre. We haven’t seen anything yet.



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