Connected Car Isn’t a Smart Car

August 27, 2014  - By
Janice Partyka

Janice Partyka

The most interesting thing in mobile and location in 2014 is the connected vehicle. Back in the early 1990s, a bigger vision of smarter highways began to be explored. The technology was refined, and resulted in successful demos of cars talking to each other and to roadside infrastructure like traffic lights. If you lived in Southern California, you might remember seeing platoons of automated vehicles zipping along a closed section of Route 15.

Since those heady days, the timing and visioning for smart highways and vehicles were tempered by the massive cost of the infrastructure required. Now we are seeing the “connected vehicle” starting to roll out of the doors of dealerships, but with a different and more limited type of connectivity than we started to envision in the 1990s.

Reminiscent of the mission started decades ago, a new year-long “smart car” project and demo will be held in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The objective of the smart car project is to determine whether wireless communication between vehicles can improve safety  Three thousand cars, buses and trucks will utilize data recorders and a technology similar to Wi-Fi that can transmit information about accidents or hazardous traffic conditions.

Drivers participating in the demo will be warned of sudden changes in traffic patterns or potential collisions through data transmitted from similarly equipped cars and roadside devices. Eight major automakers will provide vehicles and engineering assistance to the study.

Currently, some new car models are equipped with active safety devices that can alert drivers if they are drifting out of a traffic lane or traveling too close to another car. But the smart car demo differs because will share safety information with other smart cars on the road.

The smart car system can give drivers visual or audio warnings about sudden traffic changes experienced by another connected vehicle. Several cameras installed in the connected vehicles will also capture data on how the drivers respond to accidents and sudden changes in traffic conditions.

Today’s connected vehicle is sometimes referred to as a smartphone on wheels, a limited vision of what can be. Now is the time to determine if the savings of fewer accidents or increased capacity on our roads will outweigh the cost of new infrastructure and added functionality in vehicles.



About the Author: Janice Partyka

Janice Partyka is principal of JGP Services,, a consulting practice that helps companies with marketing strategy, including investigating new markets, ensuring product roadmaps match market needs, and creating marketing campaigns. Janice develops websites, social media, public relations and overall marketing communication. She also works as an expert witness for the mobile industry and conducts prior art searches for patent cases. Janice has served in leadership capacities in the wireless industry, leading marketing, business development, media and government relations, including serving as vice president of external affairs for TechnoCom Corporation. She briefed the Obama transition team on broadband issues. Janice was a twice-elected member of the board of directors of the E9-1-1 Institute, which supports the work of the U.S. Congressional E9-1-1 Caucus to ensure implementation of wireless E9-1-1, and she was telecom liaison to the Intelligent Transportation Society's World Congress. Janice is a frequent speaker at mobile and location industry events. Her webinars on mobile applications and technologies draw audiences from more than 40 countries. Janice Partyka is also the founder of, a web service that helps college students find the right major that will lead to a satisfying career. Contact: Janice Partyka at, Free subscriptions to Wireless LBS Insider are available at