Self-driving cars are getting more and more momentum. In 2014, Tesla introduced the “Autopilot” feature for it’s Model S, which allows autonomous driving. The technology for self-driving cars has been around for years though – there are other factors why it is still not here. It is mainly a legal question and not a technical one.
However, autonomous systems will be here in some years from now, and they will have a positive impact on cloud computing and big data. The use-cases were already described partially with smart cities in an earlier post. However, there are several other use-cases. Positive effects of self-driving cars are the advanced security: sensors need milliseconds to react to threads whereas humans need a second. This gives more time for better reactions. Autonomous systems can then also communicate with other cars and warn them in advance. This is called “Vehicle to Vehicle communication”. But communication is also done with infrastructure (which is called Vehicle to Infrastructure communication). A street for instance can warn the car that there are problems ahead – e.g. that the street itself is getting worse.
The car IT itself doesn’t need the cloud and big data – but services around that will heavily use cloud and big data services.
Self-driving cars also brings a side-effect: Smart Logistics. Smart Logistics are fully automated logistic devices that drive without the need of a driver and deliver goods to a destination. This can start in china with a truck that brings a container to a ship. This ship is also fully automated and works independent. The ship drives to New York, where the goods are picked up by a self-driving truck again. The truck brings the container to a distribution center, where robots unload the container and drones deliver the goods to the customers. All of that is handled by cloud and big data systems that often operate in real-time.
According to various sources, we are in the middle of the so-called 4th industrial revolution. This revolution is basically lead by a very high degree of automation and IT systems. Until recently, IT played mainly a support role in the industry, but with new technologies the role will change dramatically: it will lead the industry. Industry 4.0 (or Industrie 4.0) is mainly lead by Germany which places a high bet on that topic. The industrial output of germany is high and in order to maintain it’s global position, the german industry has to – and will – change dramatically.
Let’s first look at the past industrial revolutions:
The first industrial revolution took place in the 18th century. This happend when the mechanical loom was introduced.
The second industrial revolution took place in the early 20th century, when assembly lines were introduced
In the 70th and 80th of the last century, the 3rd industrial revolution took place. Machines could now work on repeatable tasks and robots were first introduced
The 4th industrial revolution is now lead dramatically by the IT industry. It is not only about supporting the assembly lines but it is about replacing them. The customer can define it’s own product and make it really individual. Designers can offer templates in online stores and the product then knows how it will be produced. The product selects in what fabric it will be produced and tells the machines how it should be handled.
Everything in this process is fully automated. It starts by ordering something online. The transportation process is automated as well – autonomous systems deliver individual parts to the fabrics and this goes well beyond traditional just-in-time delivery. This is also a democratization of design: just like individuals can now write their books without a publisher as e-books, designers can provide their designs online on new platforms. This gives new opportunities to designers as well as customers.
As with Smart Homes and Smart Cities, this produces not only a lot of data – it also requires sophisticated back-end systems in the cloud that take care of this complex processes. Business processes need to be adjusted to the new challenges and they are more complex than ever. This can’t be handled by one single system – this needs a complex system running in the cloud.
Cities and Homes are getting smarter and smarter. People living in these cities actually demand that there are more services presented by the local government. It needn’t be necessary to go to the city administration for standard tasks but these tasks can be done online. A key driver for smart cities is e-government. But there is much more to that than just e-government (which, in fact, has been around for years)
Cities need to get smarter. This happens on various things. The city can automatically adapt to new developments such as stronger traffic in a certain area. If more people would like to go to a specific area (maybe because there is an event), the public and private transport will automatically adapt to that. As of the private transport, cars are often driven “automatically” in an smart city. There is no driver (this will be described later on). This gives some interesting opportunities: cars communicate with the city where they want to go. The city has an overview over all desired destinations and can adapt in real-time to challenges that might arise. In case that a destination is highly demanded, the city can communicate to individual cars that there might be a traffic jam and prioritize cars or select alternative routs so that no car ends up in the traffic jam. It could also happen that there is different charging: e.g., if you want to get somewhere fast, you might have to pay little more. A very similar system can be found in Singapore, where you have to pay for using streets based on traffic and time. This can significantly lower the private transport and make the city “cleaner” and give inhabitants less stress. Some people might even decide to select the public transport instead. Furthermore, the private traffic could become public: companies might offer their cars to individuals, just like taxis but without drivers.
Of course, this needs a lot of technology in the background. Real-Time systems have to be available and complex calculations have to be done. Smart Cities need Big Data and Cloud Computing in order to provide all of these things.
A similar story can be seen with Smart Homes. More and more home automation is underway. Google’s Nest and Apple’s HomeKit are big bets for the companies and this emerging market. Future homes are highly connected and optimized. When the home “is not in use” – e.g. children are in the school, parents at work – the home stops heating or just keeps it at a low level. Before they come back home, the house starts to heat up again to achieve the required temperature (or vice versa: the home chills down for those living in warmer regions). The home itself can be opened simply with the smartphone and devices within the house are connected as well. There are sensors for elder people that prevent danger and advanced surveillance systems protect the home from unwanted visitors.
As with smart cities, this also requires a lot of back-end technology that is delivered via the cloud and uses big data technologies.
As of future technologies, Cloud Computing and Big Data aren’t a future anymore. They are here, right now and more and more of us start to deal with these technologies. Even when you watch TV, a reference to the cloud is often made. But there are several other technologies that will have a certain impact on Cloud Computing and Big Data. These technologies are different to Cloud and Big Data but will utilize that and use it as an important basis and back end.
The technologies are:
Internet of Things
All these technologies work together and have the Cloud as back end. Furthermore, they use Big Data concepts and technologies. Summing these technologies up, they can be described as “cyber-physical systems”. This basically means that the virtual world we were used to until now moves stronger into the physical world. These two worlds will merge together and form something totally new. In the upcoming weeks I will outline each topic in detail, so stay tuned and subscribe to this tag to get the updates.
Header Image Copyright by Pascal, licensed under the Creative Commons 2.0 license.