You’re on the way to work, but, as usual stuck in a long traffic jam, worried you’ll miss that meeting and suspecting that even when you reach the office there won’t be any parking spaces left anyway. Sound familiar? With the help of AIoT, such a scenario will hopefully be a thing of the past.
With the help of sensors in vehicles and on our roads we’ll not only benefit from better, quicker routes, but finding a parking space will be easy, and our cars, if not driving themselves, will be able to at least book and park themselves in the nearest available space. And we can therefore prepare for the day ahead in a more relaxed and less stressed way.
The era of self-driving cars may be a little further away for the moment, but baby steps are already in place. In terms of traffic management, the smart cities of tomorrow, with sensors and devices will be a major help. They will be able to monitor the volume of traffic on the roads and program traffic lights to keep the traffic flowing more smoothly. And with the data received, AI devices will then know the busiest times for each route and warn us of any dangers or accidents on our proposed journeys, as cars will change information with each other.
Such advances in a world of smart connected devices should make driving considerably safer. The next decade is likely to see an explosion in the number of smart cars on the road with annual global production of such “robo-car” vehicles estimated to reach some 800,000.*
Safety will naturally be the major driving factor in how commercially successful they are with an automotive industry and society in general, aiming for less fatal traffic related injuries.
“Sensor-based systems support the driver by detecting and helping them avoid dangerous situations, even though sometimes we tend to think that these functions are more about comfort and protection for our cars. Think, for instance about how they will help difficult parking,” says Ralf Mårtensson, Business Development Manager, Nordic, Robert Bosch AB.
He adds, “Safety can be divided into two categories: passive and active. Passive systems are activated after an accident has occurred and is detected, for example with airbags and belt tensions. These systems are normally not reversible. Active systems, meanwhile, are activated before a possible accident occurs. These are things like pre-braking or automated braking with full stop, ESP and warnings to avoid changing lanes.”
Detection goes beyond “seeing” dangers too. Bosch has been working on an AI technology solution that will pick up the sounds of emergency services, for example ambulance sirens and so on. Other Bosch projects, meanwhile, include systems that warn drivers who are going in the wrong direction and detect if the driver is feeling drowsy or if they have perhaps accidentally left a pet behind in the car. And cars will soon also be able to inform each other about bad road conditions ahead – car vendors are testing alarm systems that warn against icy roads, for example.
Ralf does have a word of caution though; however good the technology may be. “Even if we do have more supporting sensor systems to support the driver, remember that the driver is still in the driver seat and is always responsible for what happens with the car in the traffic,” he says.
Advances will go beyond safety of course, and comfort will certainly be a factor, not least in terms of self-parking cars, before self-driving ones really take over. Inside the vehicle, everything from door opening, air conditioning and heating/cooling, to entertainment will be operated by voice-controlled devices. And it’s not impossible that one day your car will be able to “talk” with lampposts or motorway signs that will provide warnings about accidents and difficult road conditions
Furthermore, not only will we be able to “talk” with our cars, but they will also be connected with each other too — in fact whole fleets of smart cars will be connected, so, for example, if one learns something, they all can, by sharing. Car buyers are taking note: A study conducted by the consulting firm McKinsey revealed that 37% of respondents said they would even consider changing brands to have a more connected vehicle.
Commercial vehicles will also benefit from smart connected tech. One global logistics firm has estimated that already, AIoT has helped reduce its workload by 50% and brought the reliability of its real-time tracking up to 90%. The model they are using is designed to decrease fatigue among its team of drivers, enabling them to spend less time on the road. The vehicles themselves benefit too — AIoT can track vehicle performance and suggest when maintenance is required and what needs to be done. Furthermore, sensors can also flag poor safety habits among drivers.
A Nordic perspective
In the Nordics, Bosch has its own test-track at Vaitoudden in northern Sweden to test all the new safety functions on cars. The track, which is open from November to late March each year offers test facilities and workshops to help examine the robustness of cars in tough winter conditions. “Here we work closely with several car and truck manufacturers, supporting them with sensors in their production, and putting them through rigorous tests,” adds Mårtensson.
In conclusion, whatever roads we may be driving on, with the help of smart connected tech, we’ll be taking diversions, letting our car decide how to best react to the conditions and much more – before, of course, the day comes when we hand over all control to it for our trips. Things are running smoother all the time!