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Self-driving cars: data and automation

January 7, 2014

John Hayduk   

Blog Contributor

In mid-November, I had the opportunity to attend a few days of training from Singularity University.  The training was a rather intense three days, with a substantial amount of information conveyed in a short period of time.  I had a chance to reflect on what was presented, and in the next couple of blogs, I’m going to cover some of my key learnings.

The first major “aha moment” I had was when the presentation was about self-driving cars.  It occurred to me at the end of the presentation, based on how fast the technology is evolving; there is a very real chance my children (twin boys age 8) will never have to drive for the majority of their lives.  It’s not even a real chance, but most likely definite.

Popularised by Google, developed by Mercedes, GM, Ford, BMW, Audi, Oxford University and Nissan, it’s Volvo’s announcement this week that the company plans to put a fleet of driverless cars on to the streets of Gothenburg next year that shows that the technology is about to come of age.

Whether we are prepared for it or not, the next revolution in transportation will be here soon, and the adoption of this technology will change everything we accept as a given. It’s mind blowing to think about the possibility that our children may never need to drive their own car in the future as the autonomous vehicle is capable of sensing its environment and navigating without human input.

And if you combine this with an always on, real time data connection, this self-driving vehicle can not only get you there without human input, but also on the best route based on real usage data from other connected vehicles.  Not only saving the riders time, but also most likely in aggregate, reducing time on the road and CO2 emissions.  And how good is that?  This multitude of connect devices will push networks, and real time data usage to new heights, and present continued opportunities for service providers to help enable these advancements.  Because in some of these new service scenarios, the service will only be as good as the network it rides over.