The usage of big data and connected sensors to transform the automotive industry

The rapidly expanding Internet of Things (IoT) is seeing more and more devices connected to the internet. Traditionally, these have been biometric wearables, home appliances and audio-visual equipment. Automobile manufacturers, however, are making a play to corner this market for their own ends.

Entrenching Wi-Fi into automobiles opens an entirely new avenue of pursuit that entails vehicles communicating directly with the internet for GPS navigation, email and music streaming, for example.

By 2020, the connected car market report states that connected car services will account for approximately $40 billion annually. These services include infotainment, navigation, fleet management, remote diagnostics, automatic collision notification, enhanced safety, usage based insurance, traffic management and, lastly, autonomous driving. The root of these applications is big data, as increasing amounts of data are collected from remote sensors; this information is being interpreted and leveraged to transform the automotive industry into one of automation and self-sufficiency.

Big data and the connected car

It isn’t actually a big stretch to incorporate big data into the automotive industry, as most modern cars already contain advanced technology with numerous sensors, on-board computing tools and processors. The difference is that most of this information is generated and stored locally, with connected cars, the connection to the internet will ensure all applications and information is up to date and shared to the correct platforms.

The end game is likely that automobile manufacturers will be able to update software remotely, allowing them to monitor and respond to engine performance. For example, if the vehicle is due for an oil change or running low on radiator fluid, the manufacturer will be able to inform the driver remotely. Personal errands will also get easier as you will be able to respond to emails, perform internet banking and pay bills on the way home from work.

As big data is gathered from the multitude of sensors, inferences can be drawn regarding consumer behaviour, for instance establishing if there a link between the music people listen to and drive-through restaurants they frequent. These kinds of connections can impact advertising resource allocations and budgets, and thus the information gathered from connected cars is invaluable commercially.

With regard to fleet management, by using big data and connected cars, it will enable the management of vast numbers of vehicles by way of analysis of aggregated data. Sensors will inform management of speed, braking techniques and route selection and thus they can make informed decisions to relay to the drivers. Better yet, with the application of smart sensor algorithms, the car itself will be able to suggest appropriate responses for actions measured.

Vehicle maintenance will become more preventative than reactive, as monitoring across all systems will elucidate problems before they result in a breakdown. All of this conspires to keep vehicles in peak performance shape, increase efficiency and lower costs.

A considerable amount of information arises from the interconnected motorways in the United States, and in other countries. By using this data, especially the information regarding construction, accidents and intersections, the connected car can navigate more effectively and engineers can design road flows according to real traffic patterns. The result is more efficient and safer roads.

Insurance companies are ready to pounce on this surfeit of big data. By using the information gleaned from smart sensors, the industry can benefit from compiling custom insurance plans, monitoring driver behaviour, performance and safety. These schedules are already in place in some instances, with insurance companies offering discounts hinging on driving performance. Piecing together the events of an accident is more accurate and less subjective than testimony when accomplished through big data reconstruction. This will hopefully make customers drive more cautiously and inevitably make the roadways a safer place.

Big data and autonomous driving

There is undeniable potential for autonomous driving to keep our roads safer, as 90 percent of the death toll on our roads is due to human error. For these vehicles to become a reality, they need data. Big data in fact. The vehicles are furnished with sensors measuring everything from position, speed, direction and braking; to traffic signals, pedestrian proximity and hazards. Using this data, the vehicle is able to make a decision and carry out appropriate responses devoid of human error. 

The groundwork has already been laid for the autonomous vehicle with collision warnings and camera controlled reversing applications, as well as steering governance, braking assistance and speed control already available in some higher end models.

By leveraging this real time information, the way people drive is transforming. Not only controlling the act of driving itself, but early warnings concerning imminent mechanical issues can prevent failures and anticipate maintenance, saving both time and money.  Additionally, the cars will be automatically synced to environmental conditions and changing surroundings.

As more autonomous vehicles enter the scene, big data will only get bigger and consequently the potential for autonomous technology will rise, resulting in a vastly more data-centric automotive industry.

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