IoT Fixes Tesla’s Fire Recall

Fri, 02/21/2014 - 4:19pm
Chris Fox, Managing Editor, PD&D

We all know how quickly technology is moving. In this industry, we’re on the front lines. In the last 12 months, cars have made a significant uptick in technology incorporation. Perhaps preparing for autonomous driving, perhaps it’s just Moore’s law at work, but as the Internet-of-things slowly creeps into every facet of our lives, it will become a powerful tool. Perhaps, a scapegoat as well.

Recently, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued two recalls, one from Tesla and one from GM, both were associated with problems that could cause fires. The major difference? Tesla’s fix only required a WiFi connection, while GM required owners to bring their vehicles in for service.

It was discovered that Tesla’s charger plug could cause fires, so a “recall” was issued. After an update that “automatically reduce[s] the charging current by 25 percent if it detects unexpected fluctuations in the input power,” Tesla’s plugs are free from fire concerns.

Seems like a minor inconvenience to haul your car to the dealership for a free fix, but it speaks to a larger picture idea about being connected. Beyond recalls, Tesla has used the Internet-of-Things to tweak suspension settings which, according to Wired, “give[s] the car more clearance at high speeds, due to issues that had surfaced in certain collisions.”

Big deal. It’ll always require a hands-on mechanic to fix some recalls in vehicles. Right?

By transitioning the Internet-of-Things to the internet-of-everything, we see an influx of sensor technology and communication within a machine, as well as the internet at large. This means that problems can be fixed, systems can be tweaked, and problems can be solved before they even occur. Occasionally, a technician might be needed to change out a part, but we’re talking a world of completely preventative maintenance.

Beyond the closed system of a vehicle, the Internet-of-Things could allow communications between vehicles, or even an established network of grid communication for vehicles driving on the road. I’m sure you see where I’m going with this.

Companies like GreenPeak, using Zigbee technology, have been saying that the Internet-of-Things is on its way for years. It may be that much closer with companies like Tesla utilizing the most powerful aspect of this technology and Google buying Nest Labs. The lingering question seems to remain: When will it take hold?

Clearly, the technology is here and somewhat operational, but when will a connected refrigerator, and a car that has daily conversations during my commute, become commonplace? Right now, these things are either pricey and/or a novelty – kind of like desktop 3D printers. So, when will this technology truly take hold?

It’s a tricky question to answer, since some have been talking about it for years and some are just realizing the potential. The future of the Internet-of-Things seems reliant on adoption, and it’s starting to happen. Though, a better name might help the situation.

What’s your take on the future of connected devices? Do you want your car sending you emails, or will you stick to low-fi internal combustion machines? Email or comment below.


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