CES 2020: As connected mobility takes off, avoiding traffic jams will be key

The annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is in full swing this week in Las Vegas, and next-generation transportation is a major topic. With more than 160 vehicle tech exhibitors, including 10 auto manufacturers, the CES vehicle section is larger than many stand-alone car shows. CES 2020 is also featuring the latest in drones, self-driving vehicles and other connected mobility technologies.[i]

Connectivity is gaining momentum as a pervasive theme for all CES categories, not surprising in an era in which most electronic devices join the Internet of Things (IoT). Like most industries, the lines between stand-alone products and interconnected services are blurring for consumer technologies and the companies behind them. And whether it’s a connected car, smart road or autonomous public transport, they all depend on low-latency, secure connectivity with digital ecosystems of stakeholders to exchange data and insights.

Self-driving and V2X in the spotlight

Self-driving connected cars are usually top of mind when considering the future of smart transportation. Artificial intelligence (AI) and rapidly evolving Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X) technologies enable vehicles to communicate with other vehicles, pedestrians and the smart city infrastructure managing roads, traffic and parking. Pervasive mobile networks, regulatory mandates and government support are also helping to drive adoption, which is only expected to pick up speed when 5G arrives. Here are a few of the automotive innovations on stage this week at CES:

> Autonomous driving and connected service innovations are being shaped by partnerships and open source platforms. Volkswagen and Ford are partnering with Argo AI for its self-driving platform, while Hyundai and Aptiv have started a joint venture to develop autonomous driving systems based on Aptiv’s Smart Vehicle Architecture (SVATM). Automotive Grade Linux (AGL), a cross-industry open source platform for connected car technologies, will also have 20+ demonstrations such as Mazda’s new Connected Services, an app-based service that lets you control and monitor certain vehicle functions remotely.

> Improved sensor technologies, such as RoboSense’s smart LiDAR sensor with embedded AI, are advancing the safety of self-driving vehicles and opening the door for more robo taxi deployments. WeRide, Waymo and Lyft have already launched robo-taxi services, and Daimler recently launched a pilot in California. CES attendees will be able to book a ride on Continental’s autonomous shuttle through a smartphone app.

> Honda will have its Honda Personal Assistant on hand, a voice-enabled AI assistant for drivers that is capable of understanding context, such as the user’s location or previous queries, to support natural interactions.

Anytime a stand-alone object gets connected, it becomes part of the internet of things (IoT), and cars are no different. All of the interactions between a vehicle and the people, infrastructure, other vehicles and partners it connects to represent data exchange in a digital ecosystem.

Connected mobility is more than just cars

Anytime a stand-alone object gets connected, it becomes part of the internet of things (IoT), and cars are no different. All of the interactions between a vehicle and the people, infrastructure, other vehicles and partners it connects to represent data exchange in a digital ecosystem. And with all that data comes the opportunity for new value and players to join and enrich the ecosystem even further. One example is Huecore, an insurance data-as-a service (DaaS) platform based on a connected license plate that provides insurers with enriched data to identify risk exposure based on an individual’s driving behaviors.

There are also number of other emerging innovations in smart mobility including:

> Flying cars are now available for pre-order from AeroMobil, Terrafugia, Hyundai, and others.

> Building on the launch of its Autonomous Pod Transport (APT) vehicle at last year’s show, Bell will be presenting a number of sessions on urban air mobility. The vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) market is projected to grow to $3.5 billion by 2030, predominantly driven by military and commercial applications.

> Drones (also a CES topic) are being used for precision agriculture, emergency response, deliveries, monitoring and more.

> Bosch will demo its SoundSee technology that uses AI-driven analytics on sound in space to detect anomalies and determine when maintenance is needed on NASA’s International Space Station.

Some of the most exciting developments, however, are advances in public transport (trains, buses, shuttles) and supporting transportation infrastructures. For example, smart roads and lights promise to improve operation and safety of connected vehicles, as well as help cities to manage traffic and road conditions better. As urban populations continue to grow, this will be essential for mitigating traffic congestion and its corresponding impact on air pollution, road conditions and citizen health. And it will ensure that even the most crowded metro areas continue to attract the human talent required for growth.

Why the future of transportation needs interconnection

Just like the internet has to handle multiple types of data traffic across different network paths, transportation systems must ferry people and things from point A to point B across different routes. Today, those systems are very siloed by the type of transportation (cars, trains, planes, boats, buses) and their supporting paths (roads, railways, waterways). So, for example, a popular event in a city will almost always cause a traffic jam. In the future as transportation systems become more connected, AI algorithms could help segment traffic to minimize congestion and offer alternate routes such as robo taxis or autonomous shuttles based on current demand.

For this process to be seamless, protocols and standards are needed for route selection and end point communication. And most importantly, a platform is required that allows different parties to exchange data. A smart mobility system may include a multitude of vendors managing transportation modes (cars, trains, planes, boats, buses), routes (roads, railways, airports, waterways) and data (signals, sensors, clouds, AI algorithms, etc.).

The public internet is insecure and prone to congestion (data traffic jams) and latency, but a distributed IT architecture based on private interconnection helps improve performance, scalability and resilience while mitigating security and compliance concerns. Global interconnection solutions, such as those found on Platform Equinix®, enable organizations to harness new technologies, transform the user experience at the edge and scale new value chains through ecosystem partners and data.

Author: Herbert J. Preuss - Senior Solutions Architect at Equinix, MBA