Connected & Autonomous Vehicles (CAVs): Technology and Changes to the Automotive Distribution Industry

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Tags: Blog, Industry news, Technology

Daniel Fritsch   21 June 2017

Technology and Changes to the Automotive Distribution Industry


  1. Changes to the Automotive Industry
  2. Challenges with CAVs and the Automotive Industry
  3. Be Prepared for CAVs

The Digital Revolution of the last century marked the advent of a new global phenomenon. With digitisation as the new norm, it’s only natural that established industries evolved to keep up with new demands. The automotive industry is no exception to this revolution: automotive technology is now moving towards connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs). The level of digital technology in cars has developed to include autonomous features for increased safety and driver convenience.

What are CAVs? These features can be split broadly into five categories:

Vehicle Systems

This technology aims to mitigate the human factor in driving. Features such as assisted braking, traction control and park assist have been part of vehicle technology for many years. However, many technologies are also aimed at improving the driving experience – connected mobile technology and smart dashboards aim to make the car an extension of the office without compromising safety.

Commercial Management Systems

These systems make road transportation more efficient by using technology to speed the process; technologies to avoid traffic, reduce driver workload and increase productivity could revolutionise commercial transportation. Furthermore, vehicle systems produce data that can be used for analytical purposes.

Vehicle to Vehicle Systems (V2V)

These systems will enable vehicles to communicate with each other wirelessly, creating a great safety feature to enable vehicles to undertake autonomous collision avoidance. Furthermore, it has use in commercial transportation, as separate vehicles in a fleet will be connected to enable coordinated transport operations to take place.

Infrastructure Systems

CAVs are bringing change to the UK Auto IndustryThis has already begun with the advent of “smart” motorways. The technology will continually improve to create greater feedback between the transport infrastructure, drivers and vehicles.

Vehicle to Infrastructure Systems (V2I)

As the technology for smart infrastructure improves, vehicles will be able to communicate with these systems to plan and undertake journeys with greater efficiency. This will pave the way for driverless cars.

Changes to the Automotive Industry

The Digital Revolution has made research and development of CAVs possible, bringing about increased safety, increased mobility, and benefits for the economy. Regarding safety, technologies in place have already led to a reduction in traffic accidents. Continuing to develop CAVs will increasingly eliminate the element of human error. CAVs are also increasing mobility for an aging population. Six out of ten individuals have issues with mobility in the UK; CAV technology will enable these individuals to attain greater independence.

As well as technological changes to the vehicles themselves, digitalisation within the industry has revolutionised vehicle production. The primary benefit here is increased efficiency with time to market for vehicles reduced by up to 30%. CAVs are also projected to benefit the UK economy by creating £74bn of revenue by 2035 and 320,000 additional jobs by 2030.

These changes to the manufacturing process come as:

Real-time Predictive Analytics

By sorting and analysing data in real time, agile decisions can be made that predict changes in demand over time, enabling automotive manufacturers to adapt quickly to changes in the market.

Big Data Servers

Connected Vehicle Technology

Modern vehicles communicate with the manufacturers. Not only does this aid fault diagnostics, it enables the manufacturer to undertake root cause analysis to identify faults in the manufacturing process that lead to premature component failure. From there, changes can be made in processes to increase vehicle reliability.

Crowdsourced Data

The proliferation of social media and other feedback systems has enabled manufacturers to gauge public opinion and reaction to their products, as well as correcting process faults and furthering product development.

Real-time Scenario Modelling

The wealth of data available means that manufacturers can use technology to model possible scenarios so that they can learn to adapt quickly to threats within the industry. They can also trial new processes before they go live.

Future Developments

Vehicles are getting closer to self diagnosis: the data collected means that replacement parts can be ordered at the same time as booking an appointment for repair, reducing the time between fault diagnosis and repair. The data gathered is also enabling greater personalisation options for customers buying new vehicles. Such developments have made manufacturing easier than ever, freeing up revenue for research into new vehicle technology.

Challenges with CAVs and the Automotive Industry

There are still some obstructions to the development of CAVs. One hurdle to overcome is regulation and policy. As technology is implemented into vehicles and becomes more commonplace, a new framework of regulations will need to be developed to ensure road safety. Not only will regulations need to be updated, but the existing road infrastructure will need to be changed as well to support V2I technology.

CAVs are not only changing existing structures – they’re also adding new challenges. The new technology for CAVs will need to be researched, developed, and tested before it is used on the road. Cyber security will also need to be revamped as CAVs rely on digital systems, and the threat of hacking poses a risk to CAVs.

The last challenge CAVs face is in having the market adapt to the new technologies. CAVs need to build consumer trust; driverless technology, for example, is a huge leap of faith, and many drivers will be resistant to fully autonomous cars. Not only will the consumers need to adapt, but distributors will need to adapt their supply chains to fit the new market emerging.

Be Prepared for CAVs

The UK automotive market is continuing to grow and change. For distributors, these changes mean new markets to expand into including new products and new demand. While CAVs are only in the early stages, the next few years will see a rapid development in this industry, but ensuring that your warehouse is ready for market changes is a step you can take now. Check out our white paper below to assess how prepared your warehouse is for industry changes.

Guide to Inventory Health Self-Assessment