Speeding Ahead to Safer Driving

Can data save your life while you drive? Automobiles are rolling off the assembly line with more and more embedded technology that can potentially help prevent hundreds of thousands of accidents annually. On highways and neighborhood streets, these advances can assist drivers by either automatically reacting to hazards or warning drivers of potential dangers. The resulting decrease in accidents can not only save lives, but can also significantly reduce out-of-pocket car repair costs and medical bills, showcasing the inherent value of data.

What is Edge Processing and Why is it Important?

Most folks want to be good drivers behind the wheel. Although the attentive, experienced, rule-abiding drivers make the roads safer for all, the potential pitfall of those who are distracted, run a red light, fail to yield, along with blind spots, pot holes, weather, etc. makes accidents almost inevitable. In fact this year, 718 accidents per hour are predicted on US roadways. And the number of fatal motor vehicle accidents per 100,000 people fell only 25% in 24 years, from 15.4 in 1992 to 11.6 in 2016.

A powerful solution to this issue is to increase computing capabilities within automobiles, so that they “think” and react to help prevent accidents. Welcome to edge processing.

Edge processing is processing of data occurring outside of the data center. Autonomous car safety systems, such as lane departure detection systems, automatic brakes and backup cameras, need these capabilities to make quick decisions that are based on the processing of huge data volumes. For example, lane departure detection systems use edge processing to conduct complex analysis and warn passengers in real time, without having to send the data to the cloud and wait for a response.

Edge Safety Features Eliminate Hundreds of Thousands of Accidents

Our research shows that, thanks to edge processing, 276,000 accidents will be prevented in 2018. That’s 32 accidents prevented every hour and it translates to a total savings of $1.9 billion dollars in avoided insurance claims. The impact of edge processing will only increase over time, too, as more cars are equipped with safety features. In 2030, 2.5 million accidents will be prevented by edge-enabled safety features – that’s 285 accidents avoided per hour and represents $22 billion in avoided insurance claims for car repairs and medical bills.

But, it’s Still a Bumpy Road

Although 32 accidents prevented per hour in 2018 is impressive thanks to the power of edge processing, this year there will be 718 accidents per hour. What is preventing this technology from realizing its full potential? One issue is that edge-enabled safety features are not widespread enough to realize their full impact. In 2016, only 5% of cars had advanced driver-assistance systems. Another major issue is the difficultly of quickly updating cars with the latest safety features.

What if You Could Update Your Car Like Your Phone?

“Dumb” cars (or the vast majority today that can’t receive updates) can be compared to older model mobile phones (flip phones) that couldn’t be upgraded. If consumers wanted new features, they had to buy new phones. However, if cars were equipped with onboard computers, new features could be downloaded, similar to smartphones, using existing compatible hardware.

Through onboard computers, cars would receive quick updates and use predictive models to engage automatic safety features that help human drivers prevent accidents. As machine learning occurs in the cloud and the algorithms get smarter, upgrades are pushed to a car’s onboard computer. Cars can then better predict when an accident will occur and can trigger the edge-enabled crash-avoidance features in real time that brake or divert the car from crashing. It’s the classic combinatorial effect at work: onboard computers combined with edge-based features that are constantly getting smarter boost safety beyond what all the features working alone can accomplish.

We've got plenty of opportunity to shift from edge processing to full onboard computers in vehicles with updatable software and telemetry and that's going to really help drive additional safety on our roads.Dave Tang, Western Digital

Edge Safety Features with Onboard Computers Eliminate Millions more Accidents

The potential impact from equipping all cars with onboard computers and edge safety features is staggering. Our analysis shows that if all cars in the US had been equipped with onboard computers and edge safety features, they could have avoided an additional 540 accidents per hour in 2018. That’s an additional 4.7 million accidents avoided in 2018, or 75% reduction in total accidents, and a whopping $33.5 billion in savings for the insurance industry from avoided claims in one year alone.

If we extrapolate this scenario, and measure the savings between 2018 and 2030, there will be an estimated $240 billion dollars in avoided insurance claims.

The Road Ahead

So what’s preventing automotive manufacturers from leveraging this fast data technology to reach a new pinnacle of human safety? What does all this mean for autonomous vehicles when vehicle-to-vehicle communication and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication is reached? When would edge processing and onboard computers save your life and you wouldn’t even know it?

Download our whitepaper and learn more.

Want to drive the fast lane of edge processing and automotive safety?

Forward-Looking Statements

Certain blog and other posts on this website may contain forward-looking statements, including statements relating to expectations in the market for data storage, our products and applications of our products. These forward-looking statements are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed in the forward-looking statements, including development challenges or delays, changes in markets, demand, global economic conditions and other risks and uncertainties listed in Western Digital Corporation’s most recent quarterly and annual reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, to which your attention is directed. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements and we undertake no obligation to update these forward-looking statements to reflect subsequent events or circumstances.