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IoT and the future of transportation

Imagine a world where your car monitors your daily morning commute while safely parked in your driveway. On one particular morning, it detects a major collision along your intended route. Simultaneously, it checks your calendar and sees you have a critical meeting at 9:00 am with your most important client. Realizing you will miss your meeting if you wake at the normal time, your car alerts your smart watch to sound it’s alarm 30 minutes early. In just the blink of an eye, a potentially significant business disaster has been averted.

Think something like this can’t happen? Think again.

Now more than ever, IoT devices are dramatically impacting the world in which we live, work and play. It’s not just because there are so many more IoT devices in the world today, but because they are moving into applications never before considered.

A perfect case in point is the automobile. Here, the use of IoT and communication standards such as 5G are transforming our relationship with transportation and the way we drive. As the car itself becomes the IoT device with wireless communications built in, vehicles will evolve from a means of transporting people from one place to another to providing them with a living-room like experience.

Here’s a look at five ways IoT and vehicle-to-everything (V2X) wireless communication are promising to transform the way people drive:

  1. Predictive maintenance. In-vehicle sensors will monitor the car’s battery, fuel pump and starter motor, collecting data and transmitting it to a cloud server. This data will be combined with AI and other vehicle data stored on the cloud to predict potential maintenance issues with recommendations delivered to the driver via a connected device or through the car’s display.
  2. Advanced infotainment. AI, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) applications will relay information to the driver through a virtual assistant or on one of many new in-car displays. These same applications and displays will also deliver a new level of in-car entertainment and productivity.

    A virtual heads-up display and other AR/VR capabilities will be key components of the autonomous car. Source: Shutterstock.

  3. Collision avoidance. Vehicle-to-Vehicle communication of information between cars in close proximity will help warn drivers of potentially dangerous driving situations or an imminent crash.
  4. In-vehicle cameras. An interior-facing camera will monitor and detect the driver’s gaze and attention. When a problem is detected, such as the driver not blinking their eyes at the expected frequency because they have fallen asleep, a sound warning will be triggered. An exterior camera will interpret the events during the drive and alert the driver to any potential issues, while also providing 360-degree visibility around the car.
  5. Smart tire. Sensors embedded in the car tires will monitor tire conditions such as air pressure, tire tread, temperature, acceleration and road conditions. This data will be relayed to the car’s engine control unit in real-time so adjustments can be made to improve the drive. The tire sensors will also connect to nearby cars and infrastructure to get information on the state of the road and warn drivers of possible accidents or traffic jams ahead.

It’s a vision of a future yet to come with the advent of fully autonomous vehicles. While it won’t happen overnight, changes are underway today to help lay the groundwork. However, the challenge lies in bringing these innovations to life on a platform that is mission critical.

In the automotive world where both drivers and passengers demand the utmost safety, reliability and precision of car electronics, automotive manufacturers must go far beyond just pass or fail. It’s not just the reliability and precision of the IoT sensors that must be considered. Constant connectivity, complex communications on and off the vehicle, and ultra-precision timing are also essential.

Achieving the high-level performance and functionality that autonomous vehicles require can only be realized with appropriate design and test of the device, wireless communications and connectivity.

Device testing. IoT sensors must be designed at the outset to be accurate, reliable and long lasting. Their battery life must be optimized using a solution with the ability to visualize current drain from nanoAmpere to Ampere in one pass. Power and signal integrity must also be analyzed.

Wireless communications testing. To ensure IoT devices perform as expected under real-world conditions in a wide range of environments as well as in the presence of other sensors operating with different wireless technologies, coexistence testing is critical. This way, any potential interferences that can impede the functional performance of IoT devices can be identified and quickly mitigated. Conformance testing to the wireless standard supported by the IoT device is also essential.

Connectivity testing. Robust and reliable wireless connectivity makes network readiness a key concern. Operators need to ensure that network changes will not disrupt quality or performance. Plus, the network must be able to support the different wireless standards utilized in the vehicle and provide extreme coverage.

Without a doubt, the rise of IoT devices working in conjunction with V2X wireless communications is ushering in a new era in transportation. But new and future vehicles will only be as strong as the foundation on which they are built. Building innovations in car electronics with the use of accurate and precise test and measurement is the strong foundation needed to deliver the safe and reliable future of autonomous driving.

All IoT Agenda network contributors are responsible for the content and accuracy of their posts. Opinions are of the writers and do not necessarily convey the thoughts of IoT Agenda.

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