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January 23, 2018
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How Big Data is Paving the Way for the Connected Car

The International Consumer Electronics Show took place last week in Las Vegas, Nevada. CES is an annual trade show that showcases the newest products and technologies in the consumer electronics space. This year there were over 184,000 total attendees and 4,000 exhibiting companies.

One of the hottest topics at the show was the connected car, a car equipped with access to the internet’s wireless ecosystem. This allows the car to share internet access with devices both inside and outside the vehicle.

Connected cars are made up of hundreds of OEM components from various manufacturers. These devices and parts leverage the “connectivity” via APIs and other forms of interfaces, forming an ecosystem of devices working with together. So, concepts such as monitoring, administration and governance not only apply to individual parts and devices but also to the overall ecosystem. This ecosystem is powered by Big Data, with self-learning, self-reporting, and soon will lead the way for autonomous vehicles.

A Better Vehicle

The connected car has numerous benefits to the driver and continues to be improved upon. First, the ability for mobility management. These functions provide the optimal route, traffic information, and optimized fuel consumption. Additionally, safety and collision avoidance, predictive vehicle maintenance, and entertainment. These features combine to provide a significantly improved driver experience.

Along with the benefits customers will experience, there is an entire ecosystem of verticals that gain insights from the connected car. The car manufacturers are interested in the performance metrics of the car, the servicing department is interested in the maintenance and wear-and-tear metrics of the individual parts, the infotainment vendors are interested in the usage patterns of the driver, the city and traffic monitors are interested in speed metrics, the insurance providers are interested in the driving patterns of the driver and so on.

Big Data Leading to Insights

Some research is predicting the average connected car will generate 1 TB per day in the near future. Given that most of the KPIs/metrics from such sensor data of a connected car needs to be measured, monitored and alerted upon in real-time, storage and connectivity are the least of concerns. The most important issue needing to be addressed is how to process such a massive amount of streaming data in real-time, detect anomalies or even better predict a fault before it happens (accidents, unusual battery usage, high engine temperature etc).

Hortonworks Data Flow (HDF™) provides the solution to this problem, allowing the streaming and processing of this massive amount of data, securely and reliably. Paired with Hortonworks Data Platform (HDP™), some of the top auto manufacturers in the world can take data from connected cars and turn it into actionable intelligence. Through HDP, manufacturers can store, process, and analyze data efficiently and cost effectively. These insights are helping power the future of autonomous vehicles.

Companies continue to push the boundaries of what is considered “normal.” What once seemed far-fetched, has become almost inevitable. Self-driving cars are the next big innovation on the horizon. Google’s fleet of autonomous vehicles are currently in testing, and eclipsed the 3-million-mile mark last year. This enables the company to have a significant amount of data for testing, refining, and improving upon their technology.

Customer Reaction

There’s a famous quote from Henry Ford about innovation. When his development of the Model T was met with skepticism, he said “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” Along these same lines, when talking about how hard it is to design products by using feedback from focus groups, Steve Jobs said “A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”

At first glance these statements may seem controversial and potentially even insulting towards customers. However, these points had nothing to do with the intelligence of customers, but rather the sense of responsibility that innovative companies have to constantly be improving. Customers tend to be more focused on today’s trends, while companies need to be envisioning and working towards where the world is going in the future.

Where Autonomous Vehicles Fit

In this same way, customer can’t be expected to know that they want autonomous vehicles. There are questions still to be answered, and public opinion is split. In fact, 55% of people in a recent survey conducted by Gartner Consumer Trends in Automotive said they wouldn’t ride in a fully autonomous car.

This uneasiness can be expected, many people still consider self-driving cars as unproven and unsafe. However, when you drill down into the specifics, it is evident this is where technology is moving. Autonomous vehicles have a number of positive benefits that the general public may be overlooking. Namely, safety on the roads would be improved tremendously.

81% of car crashes are the result of human error. Whether it’s speeding, failure to comply with road laws, distracted driving, texting, drunk driving, or fatigue, there are clearly many factors that contribute to the number of accidents on the roads. Self-driving cars have even been called “more courteous and defensive than normal drivers” by Google’s director of the self-driving car program.

Reducing the number of accidents most importantly saves lives, but also reduces total costs for healthcare, insurance, and vehicle damage. Along with increased safety and reduced costs, self-driving cars will cut down on traffic congestion and increase fuel efficiency.

Potential Security Concerns

Another concern that customers and companies have is the security of the connected car. With these hundreds of OEM components, there are many opportunities for something to go wrong. In 2016, we saw how any Nissan Leaf could be hacked from anywhere in the world as long as you had the VIN number of the car. This was due to an unsecured API in the HVAC component shipped by an OEM vendor. A year before that, we saw hackers shut down a jeep remotely from a computer. A connected car is an ecosystem of connected IoT devices. This means that not only device-level security must be addressed, but also data security during transmission and storage. An appropriate data management solution is essential for managing, securing, governing and ingesting data from a connected car.

Headed in the Right Direction – More to Come

While some people are hesitant to trust machine learning, AI, and autonomous vehicles, it’s clear that these trends are more effective than relying on humans. In the same way that Netflix, Amazon, and Spotify are able to make highly refined recommendations based on the sheer quantity of actionable insights they’ve gathered from data, self-driving cars will continue to become smarter the more driving data available.

Autonomous vehicles aren’t perfect yet, but the trends suggest they will continue to improve. When they reach the point of being publicly available there is little doubt that they’ll be significantly safer and smarter than relying on human drivers.


Shawn Srour says:

I like the idea of connected cars and self-driving cars, but still, nothing is comparable to human intelligence. On the other hand, technology is the necessity of this era and this technology is going to be a new rage, mainly due to the benefits its features are going to offer the world.

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