Cloud Computing within the Automotive Industry
Have you always felt like “The Cloud” is a little bit too fluffy? Then take a sneak-peak at this blog entry and get to know for example that “The Cloud” or properly referred to as “Cloud Computing” can be used both for data/file storage, offline computation as well as online computation, where Combine’s open-source tool Sympathy for Data/Sympathy Cloud operates within. You will also get a deep-dive into how the automotive industry is progressing within the area of online cloud computing.
“The cloud” or properly referred to as “Cloud Computing” is a general term used when talking about computations or data storage on a server at another location accessible through an internet connection, i.e. “in the cloud”. Hence the computation is not made on your local computer nor on a local server.
The area of use for cloud computing has primarily been within data/file storage and offline computation, whereas the use of online computation is currently on the rise. It is particularly strong within the field of data science which looks at large amounts of data to get insight and retrieve relevant information for taking appropriate decisions. This is one of Combine’s specialty areas and our open-source tool Sympathy for Data and its cloud companion Sympathy Cloud. https://www.sympathyfordata.com
Connected services within the automotive industry
An area where online cloud computation especially is on the rise is within the automotive industry. Because once one automotive manufacturer delivers functionality within a new growing area the race begins, and it has officially started. Some of the key players so far are:
- Volvo Cars (https://www.media.volvocars.com/global/en-gb/media/pressreleases/251381/volvo-models-across-europe-to-warn-each-other-of-slippery-roads-and-hazards
- Volvo Trucks (https://www.volvotrucks.com/en-en/news/volvo-trucks-magazine/2018/may/connected-safety.html)
- Bosch (https://www.bosch-presse.de/pressportal/de/en/how-bosch-is-transforming-driving-with-connected-services-143936.html)
- Here (a map supplier), being used by among others BMW (https://www.here.com/products/automotive/hazard-warnings)
How it works
One application of the cloud within the automotive industry is to keep track of the location of all connected vehicles at any time and assess whether a particular vehicle requires information for its current trajectory. This information could, for example, be of informative or safety critical character or crucial for the driver/vehicle to plan ahead.
The assessment is broken down into localization, trajectory estimation and translation of everything to the same timeframe. Depending on where you put the responsibility of the final assessment, you could either have the cloud make the complete assessment or have the necessary information be sent down to the intended vehicle for final assessment through onboard data processing.
The main application for this technology so far has been within the information flow to the driver of potential safety threats along the road ahead, such as hazardous obstacles (broken down vehicles or road work areas) or ambient information (road friction). But by introducing cloud-to-cloud communication, where for example one cloud can hold infrastructure information (such as traffic light information), the spectra of information are broadened.
However, the main benefit of using the cloud would come by having this as a “mother of all sensors”-sensor, i.e. by being able to receive data of your surrounding which is statistically substantiated. It would then be able to assist in reaching level 5 automation for autonomous driving vehicles (https://www.gigabitmagazine.com/ai/understanding-sae-automated-driving-levels-0-5-explained).
The main challenges on reaching there are:
- Latency; as it is a real-time system, the latency of both, communication as well as computations, are crucial.
- Computational reliability; as always, the computational reliability is crucial, but when being within an online cloud computation framework the information sent to the vehicle needs to be fully reliable to be able to relentlessly act on it.
- Having enough data; both having enough data from a vehicle to assess a situation but also having data from a sufficient number of vehicles.
The future of online cloud computing
As internet accessibility is getting better and data transmission is getting cheaper, especially with 5G on the horizon, the future of online cloud computing looks promising. If more and more companies go towards data sharing, the range of possible applications looks even more promising.
Nevertheless, the main issue when collecting and sharing personal data (such as vehicle data or data from your mobile phone) in such quantity and quality, will, however, be integrity. Sharing and storing data continuously at every instant will open the door to misuses such as surveillance or tracking, no matter how anonymized the data may be. And thus, we are moving towards an “all-seeing eye” society.