What do IoT-based autonomous vehicles mean for future mobility?
The automotive industry has witnessed numerous breakthroughs over the years. The industry currently is on the brink of the digital revolution and moving from traditional driving to a connected and autonomous driving ecosystem. This is majorly happening with developments of the internet of things. As IoT has already introduced connected devices and tools across industries and even at homes, it is now bringing us one step closer to a self-operating world of machines. This technology is set to power future vehicles and transform the driving experience while improving businesses’ operational capabilities with a vehicle fleet.
Modern-day vehicles are already equipped with advanced features, ranging from safety measures to navigation systems. The addition of internet connectivity takes these vehicles to the next level. Using IoT-powered sensors will enable a vehicle to be controlled remotely.
Today, self-driving cars are struggling to find their way on roads. Though considered as secured driving to minimize accidents on roads, many experts are still tentative about fully autonomous vehicles. In 2018, Uber’s self-driving car hit a pedestrian while testing on the roads of Tempe, Arizona. It garnered a lot of media coverage over the safety of such cars. Even many reports still ask who will be responsible if an autonomous car hits people? However, later a year after the fatality, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released the results of its investigation into the Uber crash in Tempe, which highlighted many human errors.
Despite this, many automakers are increasingly racing to bring the first fully autonomous car to the world. Last year, the self-driving unit of Google’s sister-company Alphabet, Waymo reportedly carried out successful autonomous taxis trials in California, transporting over 6,200 people in the first month. Tesla, on the other side, is also making big strides forward in bringing self-driving technologies and autonomy into the future of automotive. In October 2020, the automotive giant sent out its full self-driving software to a small group of owners who test it on public roads, enabling the vehicles to better steer and accelerate without human hands and feet.
Ford is another car manufacturer stepping towards autonomous driving, with vehicles being tested in Pittsburgh, Palo Alto, Miami, Washington D.C. and Detroit. With its partner Argo AI, Ford plans to trial its fleet of self-driving cars in Austin, intending to launch a wider-reaching autonomous taxi and delivery service in 2021.
Apart from the development of such vehicles, many brands are also seeking autonomous vehicles for their business. For instance, retail giant Walmart is using autonomous cargo vans to deliver groceries in Arizona. In late December, the company announced to expand its driverless delivery capabilities in Arkansas with autonomous vehicle company Gatik. Conversely, Pizza Hut is working with Toyota to deliver pizzas via autonomous vehicles.
While autonomous vehicles will play a crucial role in the future of automotive, devices powered by IoT provide inclusive information about the condition and performance of each vehicle as well as the driver’s behavior. This technology will also help in fleet management by offering to a fleet manager real-time location monitoring of the fleet, tracking traffic conditions on the road, measuring weight/volume of cargo that the fleet is carrying, and providing time and driver management. The IoT technology will enable cars to connect over an IoT network called CV2X (cellular vehicle to everything) that connects vehicles and smart transport systems with each other. Moreover, IoT in automotive will open new avenues for car manufacturers and buyers worldwide.
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