Ten years ago, we saw autonomous vehicles only in sci-fi movies. The prospect seemed far-fetched, and in some ways, it still does. Full automation is nowhere in the industry predictions yet.
Self-driving cars face several difficulties which stand in the way of widespread implementation. Yet the automotive and tech industries see them as the inevitable future of transportation, and the global autonomous vehicle market is expected to reach $556,67 billion by 2026.
We’re all excited about the advantages which this technology promises. These include a drop in traffic congestion, enhanced road safety, and the implementation of an entirely new connected infrastructure. All this while passengers sit in their vehicles and enjoy their time. It sounds like any driver’s dream, right?
Yet data management challenges and high manufacturing costs distance us from this bright future. Network infrastructures would first need to adapt to be ready for the massive challenges that come with autonomous vehicles.
With the advancement of technology, new trends in transportation will emerge. They will be driven by different factors such as a type of ownership or geographic distribution.
To help you keep track of this fast-paced industry and its most exciting concept, autonomous driving technology, we created this list of five most interesting self-driving use cases.
The evolution of 4G is finally here, and it’s not just an upgrade. The new 5G technology is poised to bring massive changes in mobile and fixed wireless data networks. It’s expected to be not only ultra-fast but very reliable as well. Moreover, it should be a fully responsive network. All this enables the use of advanced technologies such as autonomous connected vehicles at their full potential.
The number of sensors in a self-driving car generates a vast amount of data. The current 4G is not able to process and analyze it. To deal with all that data successfully, it needs to be much faster. Autonomous vehicles require next-level data processing capabilities. They have to be as fast as human reflexes, to mimic their function.
The self-driving cars of the future are expected to generate 2 Petabytes of data each, per year. For reference, that’s 2 million GB. Currently, even the best Wi-Fi connection will take months to transfer only that data. To operate, such vehicles need a much faster network.
Fortunately, 5G should be spread across the world by 2020. It’s expected to be about ten times faster than 4G, which brings several opportunities for autonomous vehicle technology. A common belief is that its implementation is the missing puzzle in developing self-driving cars.
The numerous 5G “small cell” towers and their dense network make the future of autonomous vehicles not only possible but realistic.
Speaking of 5G, we can’t skip its main advantage – reduced latency. Latency could mean the difference between defeat and victory in a computer game. It’s a time delay between the request and its actual completion. With 4G, the latency takes about 50 milliseconds. However, in autonomous vehicles, we’re talking about the safety of people. Such a delay could put your life at risk.
Vehicle networks cannot lag. As we already noted above, they need to respond immediately to continually changing road conditions.
The only real solution to that problem seems to be offered by edge computing. All of the industry’s effort and substantial investments in the autonomous technology made tech companies expand their edge computing framework. With servers and computing resources in edge facilities located in different areas, autonomous vehicles can access all the data they need with minimal latency, which improves decision-making.
Improved Data Management
It’s now a fact that autonomous vehicles will produce vast amounts of data. Makin an in-depth analysis of this could be overwhelming. Currently, there are over a billion vehicles worldwide. According to Forbes, 10 million self-driving cars will be hitting the road soon. Just think of the amount of data to be generated if all vehicles become autonomous.
Edge computing will come in hand to prioritize all the information and consider what has to remain in the vehicle’s onboard computer and what has to be sent to data centers for analysis.
It means that edge data centers will have an essential role in such a network for improved data management. They’ll serve as a relay station and provide extra power for crucial analytics that has to stay near end users.
Modern vehicles are becoming highly connected, both to each other and the outside world as well. All of the sensors and the onboard computer in them provide safer and more efficient journeys. In the meantime, automakers, tech companies, and communication providers have a new busy market.
Vehicle-to-everything or V2X enables data from all the sensors and other sources to travel via high-bandwidth, high-reliability, and low-latency to allow fully autonomous driving. It’s an ecosystem in which cars communicate with other vehicles and infrastructure, such as parking lots or traffic lights.
The technology not only improves safety but provides drivers or passengers with information about the road ahead, so they can act in advance and respond to adverse conditions more precisely. Together with Artificial Intelligence, self-driving cars will be able to do all that by themselves.
Moreover, authorities are considering all the advantages and safety improvements that come with V2X communications, which means that it will be widely implemented shortly.
If we want to make use of the autonomous vehicle’s full potential, our cities have to be IoT-enabled. That’s right; the concept of smart cities includes connected devices. This will provide self-driving cars with all the required information to make more efficient decisions.
There are cities, which already make massive investments to get ready for the autonomous future. Columbus, a medium-sized town in the state of Ohio in the US, announced its connected vehicle environment program last year.
Cities are already trying to position themselves and capitalize on the potential of autonomous vehicles. The more we follow Columbus’ example, the closer we get to a fully independent future.
The Autonomous Future
Autonomous vehicles will be widely adopted within the next decade. When that happens, it will be crucial for data centers to extend their reach and improve their capabilities to facilitate the revolution in the automotive industry.
Self-driving cars might still seem too futuristic for us. However, now is the time to build a suitable infrastructure, which will ensure the smooth implementation of remarkable IoT devices.
We listed some of the most exciting use cases for autonomous vehicle technology. When and how they’ll be applied, so that we no longer need to drive ourselves, we’re yet to find out.