Unlocking connected vehicle data set to improve UK road safety, but challenges must be overcome

Connected vehicle data has the potential to end the scourge of potholes, improve driver behaviour and reduce the impact of incidents on UK roads.

However, major challenges need to be overcome to unlock the value of connected vehicle data including improving public and business trust in information sharing, lack of awareness of existing standards and technology maturity levels.

The key benefits of in-vehicle data are identified as:

  • Driver behaviour monitoring: Including the ability to analyse the way a vehicle is being driven, with the possibility for interventions to educate drivers on how to improve their behaviour on the road.
  • Road condition monitoring: Potential uses include identifying dangerous road conditions such as ice, which could be used to inform drivers using the same road; or collecting data on potholes and road infrastructure defects that local and national highways authorities can plan maintenance for.
  • Predictive maintenance: Collecting vehicle component performance data and alerting drives and fleet managers – and motor manufacturers – of potential failures and enabling maintenance to be planned in advance.
  • Supporting Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) journey platforms: Data such as vehicle location and speed of travel could be used to inform journey planning and booking car parking or tickets for onward travel via public transport.
  • Identifying ‘abnormal’ traffic behaviour: Changes in traffic patterns – such as slower speeds – could be used to identify incidents and road congestion, and inform drivers and authorities responsible for traffic management.

Fleet Service Great Britain (Fleet Service GB) is already pursuing the connected vehicle data pathway with its intelligent integrated online dashboards delivering real-time critical headline data on vehicles and drivers to the fingertips of fleet managers.

The technology used by Fleet Service GB to measure vehicle and driver data and performance in real-time – and flag up action areas – will continually be enhanced as vehicle connectivity intensifies and more data feeds can be obtained.

Last year, 71% of new vehicles registered in the UK were ‘connected’ to some degree and that figure is expected to reach 100% by 2026, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, thus creating ‘a rich data stream which will enable further innovation in the sector’.

As the UK transitions to a wholly autonomous vehicle future over the next 15 years – just three vehicle replacement cycles for many fleets – the automotive industry has defined six levels of connectivity, level 0 through to level 5.

Currently the vast majority of vehicles that are ‘connected’ are at level 1. That means they are equipped with ‘basic driver assistance’ features such as lane departure warning or adaptive cruise control and require an individual ‘to drive’.

By 2026 all vehicles will have a degree of connectivity with 16% at level 2, 14% at level 3 and 7% at level 4. Level 2 connected features are level 1 features but they operate in tandem with each other rather than separately; level 3 and level 4 features ‘can drive a vehicle under limited conditions’, while level 5 features can drive a vehicle ‘under all conditions’. It is unlikely that such vehicles will be available until 2035.

The Connected Places Catapult (CPC), which accelerates smarter living and travelling in and between the places of tomorrow and works with the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) across Government to support the market for connected and automated vehicles, has conducted a stakeholder workshop seeking to understand what challenges would need to be overcome to unlock the value of connected vehicle data in the UK.

Industry leaders who took part in the research called for a number of activities to be launched in the UK before 2025 to address the challenges identified. These included tasks around skill development, technology development, identification of business benefits and updating regulation.

Among the ‘key risks’ of in-vehicle data identified at the workshop were:

  • Gaps in the standards, requirements and validation of data quality that could impact on the delivery of services
  • A risk that data owners and service providers could lock customers into their data ecosystem and create a market monopoly
  • Predictive vehicle maintenance providers could force vehicle owners to use authorised service providers
  • A risk that the volume of data collected was too large for systems to process and manage efficiently and accurately
  • With growing connectivity there were risks that data access points could be used by hackers to gain control of a vehicle.

Henry Tse, CPC director of new mobility technologies, said: “There is a market need to pull data and insights together and increase knowledge-sharing across the connected vehicle sector, rather than it be stored in disparate locations. Doing this will unlock a host of benefits which could improve road safety for users, unlock economic benefits through a more efficient transport system and create innovative new businesses and services.

“We are now recommending the establishment of a consortium which can support and guide the activities and projects in this area, create a clear industry vision and accelerate the value the UK gets from this data in the new decade”

Iain Forbes, head of the CCAV, said: “In-vehicle data offers a host of potential benefits to UK consumers. This roadmap is a useful contribution to the essential work on how this data could be used to unlock exciting new services in a safe and sustainable way.”

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