BMW to Connect All Its Cars to the IoT

SIM card-based Connected Drive technology to allow for remote updates.

BWM’s Connected Drive technology is bringing the power of the IoT to the streets. (Image courtesy of BMW).

BWM’s Connected Drive technology is bringing the power of the IoT to the streets. (Image courtesy of BMW).

German auto manufacturer BMW is plunging into the Internet of Things (IoT) with its Connected Drive technology, a suite of applications meant to bring connectivity to your car.

Design Benefits of Connecting Cars to the IoT

Currently, Connected Drive technology pairs a car with its owner’s smartphone as an intermediate step to communicate with other connected devices. However, BMW plans for its cars to communicate directly with other devices in the near future.

Having the car’s connection to the IoT not depend on a smartphone will bring a lot of benefits to engineers and designers at BMW. First, by controlling the connection directly, BMW will be able to track how drivers use their cars. This information can then be used to guide future designs by discovering flaws, gratuitous features and new use cases. Second, by having the car consistently connected, BMW engineers can better secure that connection. For instance, they will be able to pass security updates to the software, thwarting would-be hackers.

The cars’ connection to the Internet will be powered by SIM cards, like those found in smartphones and other mobile devices. Andrew Furse, a product manager at BMW, elaborated for “All UK cars have a SIM card built into them, so that’s enabling every car to be connected. That means we can keep the car connected throughout its life, not just new cars coming through.”

This technology can even connect vehicles with their owner’s homes, thanks to a collaboration with Samsung SmartThings announced earlier this year. This will allow BMW drivers to monitor and manage their home from the road, like being notified of smoke alarms or water leaks and communicating with whomever is in the house.

Smart Cars Taking IoT on the Road

BMW believes equipping its vehicles with IoT technology will make its customers’ lives easier and more efficient. “The car can learn where you go and what sort of times you travel and make moving from the house to the car a seamless transition,” explained Furse, who also offered the example of a connected car being able to warn drivers of traffic conditions.

All of these features are nice, but at the end of the day they pale in comparison to the long-awaited evolution of the auto industry: self-driving cars. In fact, Connected Drive technology is working its way towards this goal with what BMW refers to as Active Assist, the car’s ability to partially or fully drive itself. Far from a distant goal, BMW believes this technology will be in standard production vehicles by the year 2021.

Presently, 500,000 of BMW’s UK vehicles are connected, but the company hopes to bring all of them online eventually. Customers may even be hesitant to purchase any offline car, as Furse explains a further benefit: “One of the best things for drivers with online services is that we can keep enabling new features for their car.” For the first time, cars may actually get better with age.

To learn about how a different auto manufacturer is taking advantage of the IoT, follow this link.

Written by

Michael Alba

Michael is a senior editor at He covers computer hardware, design software, electronics, and more. Michael holds a degree in Engineering Physics from the University of Alberta.