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Big Data Driving the Driverless Car: Digitizing Travel

Source | LinkedIn : By Russell Walker

Big Data Driving the Driverless Car: Digitizing Travel

A major change to driving and travel is soon upon us. With little doubt, we can expect driverless cars in the next decade or so. However, it is not driverless cars that will change how we travel, but rather the digitization of travel, enabling driverless cars, which will change how we travel.

In the earliest versions of automated cars, driverless automation was approached mechanically. An early version proposed vehicles locking into a monorail when on the interstate, for instance. Similarly, early versions of speed control were simply mechanical means for keeping the speed at a designated level, with no specific measuring of the surroundings. The development of sensors and rapid digital processing on cars changed the paradigm for control of the vehicle and its subsystems. Mechanics would be controlled by data, not uber mechanics.

Instead of controlling mechanics by brute force, sensors and data allow or a more precise and agile adaption to how vehicles are operated. This paradigm shift and movement to data creation for the purposes of mechanical control has already overtaken the next generation of aircraft. A single flight on a Boeing 787 is estimated to create no less than half a TB of data from sensors. This data is, in many ways, data exhaust. The byproduct of proactive sensors and devices communicating their status and conditions around them. It is reflected in theInternet of Things (IoT) and how connected devices communicate their status even if action is not taking place. Just being connected will create data!

Location, availability, and operating status are just some of the basic measures that can be captured on a continuous basis for any autonomous vehicles (even before trip begins). Once a trip is undertaken, data about the trip, deviations from the expected course, energy use, system performance, and specific environmental, traffic, and road interactions are captured. All of this is Big Data that is valuable to engineers, customers, regulators, and other businesses.

The future of driverless vehicles includes a radical change in how we travel, owing to the digitization of travel. Soon, we will be able to open an app on our smartphones and summon a driverless car. It might come from Google, Uber, Apple, or a traditional automobile manufacturer. The collection of data begins even before the trip begins. In many ways, the wave of Big Data has digitizedvehicle use already. Consider how Uber has digitized car services already. Owning a car is less critical if instead in can be summoned with high reliability and at a reasonable cost, as also in the case of Uber. Data about demand and supply of cars is currently used by Uber to price trips. Once driverless cars are available on demand, digitization of travel will create a new market for travel and the opportunity to seek out new efficiencies on when and how to travel. Data is created about the trip at a granular level allowing for new optimal decisions. In fact, the digital layer controls everything about the trip.

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