Toyota announced on August 10th the creation of the Automotive Edge Computing Consortium, along with Intel, Ericsson, Denso Corp, NTT and NTT Docomo. The consortium has the goal of developing an ecosystem for connected cars able to leverage on the huge amount of data that vehicles, and particularly autonomous vehicles will generate. According to Toyota estimate by 2025 the volume of data exchanged among vehicles and between vehicles and Clouds (worldwide) will reach 10 Exabyte, a number that is 10,000 times greater than what they are exchanging today.
The consortium will work on the definition of architectures supporting edge computing including aspects of massive distributed storage and of course local communications.
I find this announcement quite interesting since it “creates” a real market for edge computing. It has been clear for quite a while that a shift from core network intelligence to edge network intelligence was becoming possible thanks to the increased processing and storage capacity at the edges (smartphones) plus the capability to manage communications directly from terminals. However, this is a first clear industrial commitment to leverage on this possibility and it may become a game changer.
Interestingly, nowhere in the announcement there was a mentioning of 5G. It is no surprise, at least in my view. 4G, and its planned evolutions -the last one being road-mapped in 2023, is already capable of managing quite a bit of the requirements posed by autonomous vehicles, and for those that are not met alternative solutions are under study that are likely going to be deployed in parallel to the 4G evolution and 5G early deployment.
5G will support vehicle to vehicle communications, of course it will, because 5G will be clustering a variety of existing networks and protocols under one umbrella, including advanced LTE.
What I also find interesting is the estimate of 10EB of data interchanged. Whether the estimate will prove correct or not, either under or overestimating the quantity of data, is to a certain extent irrelevant. For sure there is going to be plenty of data generated and many of them will be interchanged among vehicles and leveraged in the cloud giving rise to new applications and services. Actually, one of the possible outcome was mentioned in the press release pointing to the real time generation of maps based on the data sent by millions of vehicles. These maps will be continuously updated and each vehicle will be at the same time a user and a producer of the map in its surrounding.
It is clear that traffic management will change dramatically thanks to this continuous monitoring and to the possibility of steering traffic and the use of resources.
IEEE FDC is deeply involved in this evolution with its initiatives on Symbiotic Autonomous Systems, 5G, Big Data, Cloud Computing and Smart Cities.
EIT Digital is also very much involved in this through its Innovation Activities and its Industrial Doctoral School that is offering positions specifically in this area.