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Thursday , 18 April 2024

The Driven Hour

It’s time to get more realistic about Connected Cars and the volume of data that they will generate. This paper by Joel Obstfeld Distinguished Engineer, Chief Technology & Architecture Office, Cisco and Mark Grayson, Distinguished Engineer, Chief Technology & Architecture Office, Cisco examines today’s Connected Cars and looks forward to the next generation of vehicles with a focus on the future applications and the volume of data produced.

In 2016, Intel presented a slide, suggesting that autonomous vehicles will generate 4TB of data per day. This was a wonderful ‘sticky’ number that is still quoted in the press today.

What was lost from the message was that the vast majority of this data never leaves the vehicle. Moreover, the 4TB data volume pertained to research and development vehicles rather than regular production vehicles. While there is no doubt that future production vehicles will generate increasing amounts of data, what must be remembered is that much of the data generated from an array of sensors and electronic control units within the vehicle will be recorded and processed locally, with the majority of the information being discarded. Only a subset of the overall data, that which is valuable, will be transmitted back toward the vehicle manufacturer.

Vehicle telemetry can offer the manufacturer significant insights into the operational behavior and performance of the vehicle, as well as the ability to understand their customer base in greater detail. The data may also open other business relationships such as vehicle insurance (own or partnered) and shared mobility services. Telemetry can reveal if the windscreen wipers are used, and if so, how often. It can reveal if features within the vehicle are being used or not – which may then help the manufacturer to determine if they should continue to develop a feature or potentially withdraw it. In addition, to some vehicle manufacturers, the collection of telemetry information combined with data from sensors such as cameras, is extremely valuable in helping to provide ‘training data’ for Advanced Driver Assistance Services (ADAS) and systems that may offer forms of automated driving (SAE Levels 3, 4 & 5) in the future. Alongside the use of vehicle data by the vehicle manufacturers is the burgeoning market for this data. The McKinsey report from late 2016 estimated the revenue from vehicle data monetisation could be as high as $750 billion by 2030.

While there is no doubt that future production vehicles will generate increasing amounts of data, only a subset, that which is valuable, will be transmitted back toward the vehicle manufacturer.”

What is a ‘day’?

When considering Intel’s slide with the headline figure of 4TB per day, an important question to ask is, what is a ‘day’? For the automotive industry, a ‘day’ is the usage period of that vehicle within a 24-hour period (also known as the ‘duty cycle’). In the United States, the average personal light vehicle travels just over 11,200 miles per year. With an average of 261 working days per year, this equates to a distance of approximately 43 miles per day, with an average transit time of 53.8 minutes.

Travel data for the average personal light vehicle (US) In the discussion about how much data vehicles generate, we need to bear in mind that our roads carry a wide variety of vehicles, from heavy-duty freight haulage to public transit services and motorcycles. The duty cycle for these vehicles varies widely, with public transport and freight vehicles needing to be in operation for a significant portion of a 24-hour period. The term ‘per-day’ therefore needs to be put in perspective. Instead, we need to understand the usage pattern and determine data volume ‘per-duty- cycle’ of any given vehicle.

Let me ‘infotain’ you

In-car entertainment, or what is known as In-Vehicle Infotainment is one of a set of applications that may contribute to the download data stream. As with other forms of consumer entertainment, the methods by which consumers access their entertainment has changed and will continue to change. The in-vehicle infotainment unit continues to evolve with many including high-resolution touch-screen capabilities, an automotive navigation system, some offering broadcast television receiving functions and more advanced solutions including the ability to run smart phone like applications.

The car can be considered to be an advanced paired Bluetooth accessory, enabling the user to play media from a connected personal communications device with some infotainment systems offering connection solutions such as Apple Carplay and Android Auto. Further, that navigation services will be delivered to the connected personal device, doing away with the need to offer an integrated navigation service within the vehicle. A key tenant of this approach is that the user pays for their consumption of media and navigation services, using their personal data plan associated with their personal communications device. The alternative position suggests that the vehicle manufacturer can participate in the infotainment value- chain, offering a variety of integrated and connected experiences, with infotainment systems that include versions of applications such as Spotify and Google Maps.

Type of Data Examples of information collected
Vehicle status Mileage, battery voltage, door and hatch status
Position and movement Time, position, speed
Vehicle service Due date of next service visit, oil level, brake wear
Dynamic traffic Traffic jams, obstacles, signs, parking spaces
Environmental Temperature, Rain
User Profile Personal profile picture/avatar, settings as navigation, media, communication, driver’s position, climate/light, driver assistance
Senor Radar, ultrasonic devices, gestures, voice

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