EVENTSPERSPECTIVES

The Evolution of the Autonomous Vehicle Ecosystem

Autonomous cars might be just the long-term solution that we’re looking for. Developing such technology has the potential to save thousands of human lives. But, the goal to create fully autonomous cars takes as much attention to technical details as agreement on safety standards. We need to keep the lines of communication open between car makers and their vendors.

So, what’s the state of autonomous cars? To find out, the Autotech Council—a Silicon Valley-based ecosystem of automobile industry players—held an event on April 13th. The half-day event, hosted by Western Digital, brought together 300 leaders in the autonomous cars industry. We partnered with SiliconANGLE, a leading digital media platform, to spend a few minutes talking with a select group of these leaders.


Autonomous vehicles may be able to sense what’s going on around them, but how will they store all of that data?

This question is top of mind for Oded Sagee, Senior Director of Product Marketing at Western Digital. The problem is that the autonomous vehicle industry is seemingly fixated on a single purpose—to develop vehicles capable of driving themselves. There’s just one (not so) little problem with that lofty goal: storage. All the data generated by an autonomous vehicle’s sensors has to sit somewhere. It may be in the cloud, in the car, or somewhere in between.

The Forgotten Problem

With 0.75 GB of data generated per second, the data infrastructure for self-driving vehicles has to be resilient.¹ If you think about it, nearly 1 GB of data produced each second translates to nearly 4 TB of data per hour! At this point, issues such as latency arise and the need to store data at the edge comes into play in a major way. In fact, this need for data at the edge is a big reason why technologies such as edge computing are poised to transform the car industry.

Let’s take a step back for a moment to see where most of the energy and resources are being spent on autonomous vehicle development. Simply put, engineers tend to focus on making the autonomous car work. That means working through connectivity issues with the vehicle’s sensors and cameras, as well as writing and debugging software that uses AI, machine learning, and computer vision. Storage is usually an afterthought, something that will “necessarily follow” once autonomous vehicles are put into mass production. Watch Oded hit the nail on the head with his remarks below.

* Video clip from full interview

Challenges to Build Autonomous Vehicles

Yet, the storage problem for self-driving cars isn’t exactly cut-and-dry. If the goal is to capture, preserve, access, and transform data as we please, then storage has to be designed into autonomous cars. Consideration has to be given to the sensitivities of these devices, chief among them temperature and capacity. Listen as Oded goes into detail about these two major design challenges in the video below.

* Video clip from full interview

By building storage into the autonomous vehicle framework, Oded believes that costs can be brought down. It’s an issue that comes up when moving from the testing of self-driving vehicles to full-fledged, mass production. More affordable storage solutions could benefit all members of the autonomous vehicle ecosystem, from vendors to parts and automobile manufacturers to the end customer. Oded wraps up his interview in the clip below.

* Video clip from full interview


FOOTNOTES:
  1. Mark van Rijmenam, Self-driving Cars Will Create 2 Petabytes of Data, (Datafloq.com).
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