Automation and Edge Technologies: The future of transportation

The majority of high-benefit technologies, including 5G, automotive real-time data and over-the-air software updates will mature in usage over the next five years.

Automation and Edge Technologies: The future of transportation

By: Jordan MacPherson, Director, Product Operations, Park Place Technologies

It all started with the invention of the wheel in the 4th millennium BC when human ingenuity transformed the way we move around our world and transport our goods. It was a watershed moment that enabled a revolution in human progress spanning construction, farming, and migration.  Today, we are on the cusp of another watershed moment in transport, propelled by the convergence of emerging digital technologies, the maturing of the infrastructural services and skills to master them. 

How we move around the world and transport our goods is ever more critical today, for people and planet. According to the UN, nearly 70% of the world’s population will live in cities by 2050. This makes the performance of modern networks to support connectivity as we move through these environments even more critical particularly, as we look for greater efficiencies, sustainability and intelligence across transport networks and supply chains. 

But today’s progress faces evolving challenges. Exacerbated by the pandemic, global conflicts and just-in-time resourcing, the supply chain crises undoubtably exists. Meanwhile, citizens and governments are prepping for the rise of autonomous vehicles, as businesses adapt to the new normal and its implications for demand of increasingly intelligent transport networks. It is clear that digital technologies are poised to not only have their day in the transport industry, but to save the day with smart solutions. But it’s not necessarily going to be an easy drive.

The technologies that propel the quest forwards towards autonomous vehicles are progressing around the world. The transformational technologies with near-term maturity include connected car platforms, virtual assistants, and embedded SIM (eSIM). The majority of high-benefit technologies, including 5G, automotive real-time data and over-the-air software updates will also mature in usage over the next five years. Longer term, electric vehicle technologies and autonomous vehicle technologies will dominate the transformation of the auto industry, according to Gartner.

Jordan MacPherson, Director, Product Operations, Park Place Technologies

While some countries are already exploring autonomous mobility and testing driverless cars, the scenario in India is still a distant objective. This is because India requires policy decisions that support the reduction of costs related to infrastructure, logistics, research, and development. Other factors that hinder India’s journey are the complex environments of cities, which could pose safety hazards. Further, the negative impact on employment is also a roadblock. Although fully automated vehicles may be a distant dream for India, the market has witnessed some levels of automation. There is a massive opportunity in India in the current scenario that calls for smarter solutions, especially for transport and logistics. The data-driven and user-centricity of newer technology solutions powered by the growth of smartphones amidst the 5G rollout provide a perfect opportunity to modernize the transport industry.

The pace of transformation might feel sluggish for those in the front seat, but it is fast and furious compared to pre-digital industrial revolutions. By 2030, about 95 percent of all new vehicles sold globally will be connected. But it’s not only consumers who will benefit from slicker connected transport systems. The logistics industry will be a major beneficiary of our quest towards greater automation within the transport industry, going some way to ease supply chain bottlenecks. From the automated cranes and robotic machinery already functioning in ports and warehouses, to automated delivery vehicles will transform future supply chains and solve current sore points like driver shortages and efficiency challenges.

The bottom line is that more connected cars require connected vehicle ecosystems in smart cities to facilitate the shift with well-crafted edge infrastructures set up to absorb the data deluge. Several start-ups and other big players have entered the field and are investing aggressively. 

Investing in resilient, cyber secure and agile cloud computing strategies, that utilise powerful compute and ignite real-time analysis and decision making from edge devices is absolutely crucial. It’s critical now, not tomorrow. We are already driving partially automated, intelligent cars but they are about to get smarter. Building networks and ecosystems that can handle this data as much as 40 terabytes of data an hour from cameras, radar, and other sensors from driverless cars will determine the success, the safety, and the experience of autonomous driving.

The global transportation markets including India, are in a transitional phase that necessitates the fusion of safety and wise choices. Automotive companies are progressively utilising modern data technology to boost their business models, driven by cutting-edge ideas of smart cities and smart cars. Through technological breakthroughs, the edge computing era is transforming the transportation industry and improving vehicle efficiency. Data optimization is necessary for vehicle training and operation, but it must be done without compromising safety. Data centres are to become the backbone of the automotive sector.

Partnering with trusted third-party data center maintenance firms, to build and manage these infrastructures is the final piece of the puzzle. Businesses can take advantage of the expertise of third-party data centre maintenance companies to facilitate information sharing for development, gleaning insights and innovation. It will ensure that the full ecosystem is finely tuned, prepared for a symphony of data. Staying ahead of the curve is possible now, if we lay the groundwork together, we can truly move the world.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the original author. These views and opinions do not represent those of The Indian Express Group or its employees.

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First published on: 10-12-2022 at 10:02 IST
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