Connected vehicles bring many benefits, helping both drivers and traffic managers. However, it can be difficult for traffic managers to analyze and use the enormous amounts of data collected when every vehicle constantly transmits speed, direction, and other data points. That’s prompting many groups to see how big data schemes can be adapted for the transportation industry.
As more vehicles deploy telematics links, it’s becoming easier for traffic managers and others to collect traffic flow information and other types of data. Panelists at the recent ITS World Congress in Detroit predicted that this information flow may be augmented by vehicle to vehicle/infrastructure communications, commonly called V2X, in a few years. Many automakers feel that the U.S. NHTSA (National Highway Transportation Safety Administration) will mandate the technology, which uses 5.9-GHz dedicated short range communications (DSRC) technology, so they’re gearing up to productionize the technology.
“It’s very important for us to continue to support 5.9-GHz technology,” said Kristen Tabar, Vice President at the Toyota Technical Center. “The industry needs to continuously work with government, academia, and partners to support NHTSA’s decision. We need to be ready to go from the research phase to marketing and production.”
In the meantime, faster cellular technologies will increase the volumes of data flowing from vehicles. Many companies are racing to use this connectivity to enhance the driving experience.
“Getting more 4G and LTE systems out there will let us provide a lot more personal services,” said Brian Daugherty, Visteon’s Associate Director of Advanced Development and Intellectual Property at Visteon.
Those personal services are likely to leverage the cloud. When high-speed links connect to seemingly unlimited storage and computing power in the cloud, a range of services can be provided. Strategists foresee systems that gather so much data that input from vehicle sensors can be used to tell drivers about road conditions and tell highway managers where to send work crews.
“We’re headed towards enhanced vehicle awareness via cloud connectivity,” said Monali Shah, Innovation and Strategy Manager at Here Inc. “We need to know what’s going on beyond the horizon, whether there’s an accident or a slippery road. Companies can also collect data from the CAN bus. Then you decipher patterns from accelerometers, gathering data from vehicles to see where large potholes may be.”
While the benefits of access to vast amounts of data can be significant, handling huge volumes of information brings its own set of challenges. When many vehicles are sending speed, location, and other information, data management becomes a major undertaking.
“A lot of data is created through connectivity, we’re looking at 10 terabytes of data gathered every 10 seconds,” said James Buczkowski, Director, Global Electrical/Electronic Systems Engineering, at Ford Motor Co.
However, all these data can be difficult to use. Data on speed and braking may be useful to vehicles on a foggy highway. Transportation managers want to use these data to help them control operations, but it can be difficult to turn this constant flow of real time data into useful knowledge
“The problem with having a lot of data is that folks aren’t interested in the data,” said Collin Castle, Connected Vehicle Technical Manager at the Michigan Department of Transportation. “They’re interested in the information associated with that data.”
Transportation managers around the globe are looking at ways to use these data to improve traffic flow, among other ideas. Some are leveraging the big data concepts used to spot trends that might not be recognized by humans. When roadway management systems have real-time data, managers can change lane patterns or make other alterations to improve traffic flow.
“We’re looking at big data analysis to provide predictive analysis that allows us to predict what’s going to happen,” said Chew Hock Yong, Chief Executive of Singapore’s Land Transport Authority.