Our self-driving future is on the horizon

On March 31, 2016, Tesla started taking Model 3 orders. Long lines of eager car enthusiasts snaked outside Tesla dealerships worldwide. Elon Musk tweeted that there had been over 180,000 orders in the first 24 hours. Within a week, Tesla announced that it had received over 325,000 reservations. I was one of those excited customers.

lot of cars parked

Recently Tesla announced that deliveries to Europe would start in early 2019. With some luck, I might get my car within three years after I paid my reservation. What a crazy world we live in, eh? But you know what they say: good things come to those who wait.

Self-driving future now a possibility

During mid-October I had the pleasure to go to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to attend some training. Weather wise, Milwaukee in October is just as dreary as Stockholm. So, while I didn't get a chance to top up on my suntan, I did get some fantastic training, and I made a lot of new friends. But it was not only the training itself that made this trip fantastic. It was what I managed to do the day before it started.

Maybe my last 18 years working solely with customer presentations has taken away any shyness in me. I firmly believe that this is a blessing and not a curse. For instance, I think it is really useful to be able to approach someone and start a conversation, even if that is simply asking for directions.

In Milwaukee, we had a day off before the training commenced. My plan was to drive to the Tesla store in Chicago to check out the Model 3. But jetlag kicked in and the only thing I managed to do that day was to go shopping at a mall north of the city. It proved to be a very good choice.

The first car I saw in the parking lot at the mall was a blue Model 3. Two people were in the front seat. Of course, I approached to get a better look at the car. The moment I did the owner invited me to sit in the back seat and offered me a ride. I had plenty of space and the ride was smooth and nice, both on and off the highway.

This model was the Model 3 Performance, so at one point the owner did what all owners of the Performance models do when travelling with new passengers in the car: show off the acceleration. And boy could it move.

After some 15 minutes we ended up back at the mall. I asked the owner if he would allow me to sit in the driver's seat so that I could take a selfie (I had to send one to my Tesla friends)

man sitting in car

To my surprise, he then offered me the chance to drive – an offer he didn't have to make twice! As a non-US citizen, I'm not allowed to test drive at the Tesla store, so this was a great offer.

So, did I like my experience? You bet!

After some 20 minutes, where I had the opportunity to both drive in residential Milwaukee and on the highway, I now know that I made the right choice to pay the reserve fee in March 2016. There is now not a question in my mind that my future is electric, and with all the hype around electric cars, probably yours too.

Software defined cars move into pole position

Today, connected cars allow original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) a chance to deepen driver relationships via a wide range of infotainment, telematics and vehicle diagnostics offerings.

The next stage is to go beyond connected services as add-ons to the car to over-the-air updates that define many aspects of the cars itself, such as powertrain capabilities, vehicle dynamics and new onboard services. We are in the middle of a transformation in the automotive industry, where software upgrades will deliver new functions faster than ever previously thought possible.

The business case for traditional car sales is also changing. Geely, the parent company of Volvo Cars, have introduced the Lync. & Co. brand; a car you can buy, lease or share.

Tesla, for example, are offering access to their Tesla Network, where you will be able to do things like share your car with your neighbor.

What Tesla, and others, are doing is not only challenging the traditional car manufacturers solely in building cars, but also working like a software company that offers a car, rather than a car company offering some software. This distinction will prove important in the future, I believe.

We call it software defined cars, and it will definitely be built into not only Tesla, but all other brands. Our solution is ready for them to use for their transformation.

The ability to offer develop new SDC services and business models requires in-depth knowledge of connectivity, software development, and OTA.

As a key driver of 5G, Internet of Things (IoT), and Cloud solutions Ericsson offers OEMs valuable partnerships to co-innovate over the long term. As cars start to be updated much like today's mobile phones, users will require robust, secure solutions. Ericsson's Connected Vehicle Cloud makes global roll-out a reality, with the flexibility to respond to regulations and market drivers in each country.

But is this all a pipe dream?

I don't think so. Here in Scandinavia the race towards fully electric transportation is clearly on. In Norway, for example, 45 percent of all new car sales are fully electric.

With Ericsson as a partner, OEMs have access to the full possibilities of connected technologies, and the ability scale safe and secure OTA offerings globally, making Software Defined Cars a reality. With all of this in mind I'm sure you can understand why I can't wait to get behind the wheel of my own vehicle.

In my blog post from 2016, I mentioned what Mary Barra of General Motors said about a self-driving future; that 'the future of automotive is connected, electric, autonomous vehicles.' Back then, I questioned if it would take five to ten years before it happened.

Now I know.

Electric cars, with autonomous functions, upgraded wirelessly over the mobile network are the future.

The future is here and now. Finally.

Learn how software defined cars will offer the chance to upgrade a vehicle's functionality via OTA updates here.

 vehicle’s functionality via OTA updates
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