Software company WirelessCar is at the forefront of a global push to find new ways to use connected-vehicle data.
Founded in 1999, the Swedish company provides connected services in more than 9 million vehicles in more than 100 countries. WirelessCar works with nearly a dozen automakers, with its most robust services featured in Volkswagen, Volvo Cars, Subaru and Jaguar Land Rover vehicles.
One of the company’s latest developments is showcased in ongoing work with Polestar, and it includes the expansion of applications built on the Android Automotive Operating System.
That paves the way for new WirelessCar connected data services such as Journey Log, a system that collates and tracks details about each ride taken in a vehicle, storing the data in the WirelessCar cloud.
“We’re able to monitor when a trip starts and when it ends,” said Greg Geiselhart, vice president of sales and marketing at WirelessCar, who showcased the work during the AutoTech conference held in suburban Detroit in June. “If I have a business expense report, then I’m putting down that I had to drive to the airport or drove 100 miles to a business meeting, you can isolate all of those. And you can report them with confidence.”
One of the core components of WirelessCar’s business strategy is to address the length of time it has taken automakers to develop and deploy connected-vehicle services in the market, and then send them via over-the-air updates.
“With Android Automotive … and what we’re launching with Polestar, we’re actually able to take data right out of the head unit of the car and create services in less than a year,” said Geiselhart. “In some instances, going forward, it’s just going to be in a matter of months that we’ll be able to get new services out.”
Geiselhart said all of WirelessCar’s connected vehicle applications and services are designed to adhere to the specific data privacy requirements of each automaker in alignment with state, federal and country regulations. “We’re only doing it on their behalf, and then they’re having the interaction and the contractual agreements with their own customers about how that data is used,” he said.
Another new WirelessCar Android Auto OS application, developed for larger businesses, gathers trip information for fleets, such as rental car companies, enabling them to monitor the usage and availability of fleet vehicles in real time and on a more comprehensive system level.
WirelessCar officials said some of the biggest Android Auto OS developments will come in the electric vehicle sector; they’ll enable automakers to provide real-time data services such as an EV’s range, charging locations and weather information, which can affect range.
WirelessCar is also exploring a prototype service called Backseat Driver, which would enable those using a ride-share service to scan a QR code with their phone from the back seat of a vehicle and control features such as the entertainment system and interior temperature.
Backseat Driver, currently in the incubation stage, would also give riders the capability to add a drop-off and pickup point directly into the vehicle’s system, making it more convenient and efficient for the driver and passenger than trip reconfigurations made via mobile devices.
“If you use OnStar as kind of a baseline for what’s out there, you can do a door unlock, you can track where your bill is, you can call the call center if you’re in an accident or if you have a flat tire,” Geiselhart said. “All of those things are very much commoditized, and just about every OEM has some type of offering in the market today. The problem has been, over the course of time, that it takes four or five years to get those services out to the market, and that’s really been a limitation.”
WirelessCar executives estimate that 70 percent of automakers will introduce Android Auto OS on new models by 2025.
Jason Bartley, WirelessCar’s director for North America, said the key to the company’s ability to develop and deliver robust connected-car applications for the influx of equipped vehicles is its experience.
“It’s trying to decouple that software development [from] the part of a service that needs to run in the car away from the Tier 1 hardware supplier having to do it and allowing a true software development company like WirelessCar — that has been running off-board managed cloud automotive systems for over 20 years — to do that,” he said.
Bartley believes that, unlike as in years past, automakers are starting to see the full potential of connected-vehicle data, which will help drive development of even more services in the space.
“A lot of the hurdles have actually disappeared in the last two years,” he said. “It’s now clear every automotive OEM understands, even though the least expensive, most budget-oriented vehicle needs to have connectivity moving forward.”
His focus now is to get automakers to recognize the opportunities with connected data services. “It is more about helping them understand … the business models, the costs and … the cost savings they can generate to offset the cost of adding it to the vehicle,” said Bartley.