What are the advantages and disadvantages of car driving software? Analysis by Edmunds

Software was the main theme of the automakers exhibiting at CES 2023 in January. BMW, Stellantis, Volkswagen and the joint venture between Honda and Sony have shown upcoming cars or concepts based mostly on computers and code. The result is clear: more and more cars will be controlled entirely by software rather than hardware. In some cases, the future is already there.

What will buyers look like when vehicles are dominated by bits and bytes rather than gears and gaskets? Edmunds experts tell you what to expect.

Software defined vehicles

The term “software-defined vehicle” is an industry term used to clarify the difference between a traditional technology-enhanced vehicle and a technology-driven vehicle.

Although cars of the past 20 years have included touchscreens, multiple engines, and safety-related computing power, these software functions are largely frozen in time once the car rolls off the production line. In the future, almost all vehicle functionality will be controlled by software, allowing functionality to improve over time.

Another key difference is upgradeability. Let’s take the case of smartphones. Their manufacturers transparently update their software regularly to fix bugs and defects and add features. Software-defined vehicles work in a similar way. They have high-speed Wi-Fi and cellular connections that manufacturers use to send software updates to vehicles via the cloud. Owners no longer need to take their vehicles to a dealership or service center.

A new day and feature for your car

Tesla is a pioneer in adding software features to its cars. Over the years, it has made improvements to touchscreen interfaces and added new features such as video games. It even released updates that improved the car’s performance. Young EV brands Lucid and Rivian are following suit, using over-the-air updates to add new features and functions and fix bugs.

The software also allows you to introduce functions that were not possible in the past. Hyundai’s luxury arm, Genesis, is using facial recognition and fingerprint scanning for its new all-electric GV60 crossover. A physical key is required to set up both functions, but after that the owner can control the car as easily as a smartphone.

Established companies are also embarking on the adventure. Last summer, Ford used software to enable the BlueCruise hands-free control system in tens of thousands of F-150s and Mustang Mach-Es. The machines are equipped with the necessary equipment for the system. System equipment is already installed on vehicles; air renewal allowed it to be completed. This applies to wireless cars without the need to go to dealerships.

Maintenance is another potential benefit. These highly digital vehicles can monitor preventive and predictive maintenance and even diagnose problems remotely. No more trips to the mechanic shop or dealership to find out what could be wrong and what needs to be fixed.

Disadvantages of this new technology

The software provides new functions that were not possible in the past. But sometimes these features are not so great in practice. For example, Tesla and Rivian use a touch screen to direct the flow of air fans in the cabin. It sounds interesting in theory, but it’s a difficult and distracting process in real driving. Old fashioned, manually controlled air vents simply work better.

Crashes and software problems are also problematic. Problems that PC users know all too well can be seen in cars. This could be a touch screen that turns off and becomes unusable while driving, certain controls malfunction, or advanced driver assistance features that haven’t gone through the proper checks before being added to cars.

The risks of software crashes and privacy breaches are real. It is impossible for an evil person to drive and damage the car. Moreover, some experts welcome this technology, while recommending caution regarding the privacy of personal data: the more data collected from drivers, the higher the risk of hacking.

Edmunds says:

Software will continue to evolve to transform the vehicle ownership experience. Test driving a variety of new cars gives you an idea of ​​the degree of digital functionality you prefer. You may appreciate the ability to perform quick repairs or updates over Wi-Fi.

Source: Edmunds

And you?

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What do you think about software controlled vehicles?

Do you think this type of car really represents the future? What does this possibility mean to you?

See also:

Google and Renault are jointly developing a software-defined vehicle that will use Google’s Android Automotive OS to provide on-demand services.

Mercedes Drive Pilot takes responsibility when Level 3 self-driving car is launched, Mercedes will be the first car manufacturer to accept responsibility

California has passed a law banning Tesla from calling the software in its cars Full Self-Driving because it is false advertising that they are fully self-driving.

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