They say a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
That adage never felt more appropriate than at this year's CES. It certainly felt like I walked a thousand miles to see everything worth seeing at the world's largest consumer electronics show.
My colleague, Samuli, was delighted by the shift to sustainable technology at CES 2023. For me, the highlight was the focus on electric cars, smart mobility, and software-defined vehicles. No doubt about it, the car is now tech, and this trend is redefining the whole automotive industry.
The shift toward software-based technology is revolutionizing the car experience for drivers and passengers alike. Just like your smartphone and computer, a software-defined car can be updated and upgraded over the air to add new features and capabilities without having to replace expensive hardware components. This development is becoming a major driver of innovation and competitive differentiation in the automotive industry.
With Vaisala Xweather, we have a clear goal. We want to help automotive innovators make every journey safer and more efficient. At CES, we showed three examples of how real-time weather data combined with reliable forecasts can improve safety, comfort, and convenience for drivers and passengers.
The race towards autonomous driving was on full display at CES. But there are still many challenges.
The set of conditions under which an autonomous vehicle (AV) is designed to operate safely is called the Operational Design Domain (ODD). The ODD includes information about the types of roads the AV can drive on, the speeds at which it can safely operate, the weather and lighting conditions under which it can safely navigate, and many other factors.
Vaisala Xweather is helping the automotive industry safely expand the ODD of autonomous vehicles by supplying accurate real-time road weather data.
Road weather refers to various weather conditions that can affect the safety and operation of vehicles on the road, such as rain, sleet, and snow, as well as other factors like fog and high winds. These conditions can have a significant impact on visibility, traction, and the overall stability of vehicles. In fact, the Federal Highway Administration estimates that every fifth road accident in the United States is weather-related.1
Road weather data helps reduce the risk of accidents by providing accurate real-time information about surface conditions beyond the vehicle's line of sight. Weather-aware vehicles can also use road weather forecasts to find safer, more efficient routes and reduce drive time by avoiding roads with poor driving conditions.
Imagine if your car could show you the air quality in your area. Would it change the way you drive? Your chosen route? Or even your destination?
At CES, we showed how accurate local air quality data can enhance the driver experience and improve safety. In our example, a family is planning to go hiking in the mountains. They enter the destination into the car's navigation. Unfortunately, the map shows that air quality will be poor at the destination for the next 24 hours. The air quality forecast shows winds carrying smoke from a forest fire in a neighboring state into the region. The map shows that the air quality at the coast is excellent, so the family decides to go to the beach instead.
Vaisala Xweather Air Quality Index data is powered by a state-of-the-art air quality model that provides an air quality index and levels of individual pollutants including NO, NO2, O3, CO, SO2, PM2.5, and PM10. Global coverage provides a real-time view, updated hourly, and a forecast up to 72 hours ahead.
Almost two-thirds of electric-car owners in the United States always or frequently feel anxious about their vehicle's range, according to a recent survey.2
Driving conservatively and turning down the heating or air conditioning extends the range. But other factors, such as terrain, traffic, and the weather, are outside the driver’s influence, which can lead to range anxiety.
The Xweather Road Weather API provides accurate driving-related weather data that enables vehicle manufacturers to calculate EV range more accurately under current and forecasted conditions.
At CES, we showed how weather-aware system functionality fills a blind spot in the vehicle’s onboard sensors. In our example, the driver has an important meeting in another city. The weather is fine when they set off in the morning, but the Xweather forecast predicts a cold front and strong headwinds developing on the way. After using this data to adjust the expected EV range, the car recommends stopping at a quick charge station during the journey to ensure there is enough charge to reach the destination.
Vaisala Xweather road weather data is trusted by the biggest names in the automotive industry: Audi, BMW, Bosch, Hyundai, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Rand McNally, Skoda, TomTom, and Volkswagen. Our advanced forecast models are built upon 85 years of weather expertise and over 20 years of pioneering work with road weather. But this is just the start.
The automotive industry is on the cusp of a major shift toward the software-defined car. This shift will bring a host of new challenges and opportunities for automakers, suppliers, and consumers alike. It is an exciting time to be involved in the automotive industry, and I can't wait to see what the future holds.
Read more about Xweather automotive solutions, or contact us with your questions. We are here to help.
1. "EV Survey Shows Range Anxiety High While Charging Costs Remain Low," Forbes, June 28, 2022
2. "How Do Weather Events Impact Roads?" U.S. Federal Highway Administration, July 26, 2022