Connected Autonomous Cars, Big Data, and Not Re-inventing The Wheel
Smart Roads Need Not Be So Smart
The introduction of technologies into daily life lets us let go of old paradigms and ways of doing things. It also lets us jettison conventional ideas. I was in a deep conversation last night at dinner with a philosopher friend and I was telling him that I was working with automotive blockchain as a true ledger -- especially for self-driving cars. I mentioned that perhaps we would need smart roads or smart road sign sensors to indicate things like speed limits and such to the autonomous car.
We got into a discussion on how self-driving cars will change everything about mobility -- even the concept of your car sitting in a parking lot all day. For example, after your self-driving car drops you off at work, you can send it out to work for money as an Uber car, and it comes to pick you up after your work day is done. Or you can send it home.
My friend opined that with this and other technologies, one is only limited by the imagination as to what can be implemented. He didn't think that we would need smart roads. He pointed out that using Big Data, the computational load of self-driving cars could be significantly reduced. We wouldn't need smart roads hardware embedded in geographic locations. It was brilliant.
Here is how it will work. My blockchain is intended as a vehicle black box recorder. Everything with the connected car is recorded in real time. This includes GPS coordinates, date, time, and all of the instructions issued by the operating system of the vehicle to drive a particular stretch of road. Here is the clever bit.
Suppose all of this stuff is uploaded to a central repository, and is searchable. The connected autonomous vehicle, upon entering a specific roadway, would access this information. Through Big Data analytics, it would now know average driving conditions and speed for time of day, season of the year, rush hour, rain, sleet snow and it would know the salient features of the roadway. For example, you won't have self-driving cars running red lights or stop signs like you see on Youtube now, because you will have those features available to you. It will know things like where to watch out for other vehicles exiting a driveway (based on history of cars stopping to let these vehicles out). In other words, you will have a smart roadway without sensors and without Internet of Things (IoT) indicators. It will be like Google Street View for autonomous vehicles. The vehicles will be able to search, find and download roadway features, and use these features to navigate, without intense computational load on the car operating system. The onboard driving system would have to only detect anomalies and other traffic. You would not be re-inventing a computational feature map every time that you went down that road.
Smart roads would be smart because there would be a driving-instruction history created by thousands of vehicles on how to navigate these roads. They would be mapped with a GIS system that included driving parameters.
It would be the Google search engine for the brain inside your car. I am sure that Google has already thought of this concept. They were forward-looking enough to start Street View, but there is always room for a better mousetrap hatched by a disrupter. The disruption in this case, is to present the driving parameters in a way that will be understood by all self-driving cars. Therein lies the next billion dollar play.