The cloud can’t hold all the answers for data handling

In the era of connected and autonomous vehicles, the importance of cloud processing is growing exponentially. Also, carmakers are working hard to create a solid and balanced mix of on-board and off-board data intelligence to keep the vehicle’s performance, efficiency, and safety in check. 

On which connected services need to be hosted through the cloud and which need to be kept in the car, it’s clear carmakers need an effective connected car service strategy.  Roger Lanctot, director automotive connected mobility at Strategy Analytics, suggest: “Services such as payments or any e-commerce should be hosted in the cloud, although enabled by connections to the car. Safety related applications must be on-board, supplemented with cloud resources, creating a hybrid solution.  So, navigation can be cloud-based but, with safety systems increasingly integrated with navigation for automated driving, on-board elements will be essential.  On-board maps will require more frequent updates than currently provided for – hence the market is in the process of evolving toward incremental map updates, particularly in the context of enhancing safe operation of the vehicle. Entertainment content is, and will be, predominantly cloud-hosted from multiple sources managed by an on-board gateway.”

He adds: “Cybersecurity can only be guaranteed with on-board content but should be supplemented by off-board resources responsible for detection, prevention, response and updates. Contextual marketing messages will be cloud hosted.”

Advanced data analytics on the cloud:

According to, Emad Isaac, vice-president sensor technologies at Arity: “In order for the connected car to succeed, services need to be hosted in both the cloud and the car. We need to separate out those services that are dependent on a single event or data point from those that require large and divergent data sets.”

He also stressed the importance of local decision-making being crucial for immediate relevancy, while post-processed analytics is what can deliver greater long term value to the user.

Isaac explained: “Imagine if a car’s airbag had to send data to the cloud before deciding to deploy? Though it’s an extreme example, it demonstrates the importance of immediate local decision making on the information available. On the contrary, the ability to provide with better insight on how to be safer and more efficient driver by learning the driving styles and daily routines is a longer-term service that is better served in the cloud. With today’s advancements in sensor data and processing power, the embedded system is better able to make faster computations and, therefore, take action on the locally derived insight that required immediate attention. The cloud is better suited for services that aggregate and analyse trends from the data collected at the edge.”

On the balance between the assets of advanced-edge computing and the need to connect back to advanced data analytics on the cloud, Lanctot feels: “Edge computing is mainly required or justified in the interest of safety, collision avoidance and automated driving.  Most data exchanges with the cloud will be conducted offline via Wi-Fi when the vehicle is idle.”

Safety and privacy in the autonomous vehicle era

According to Ritukar Vijay, head technology and strategy, with The Hi-Tech Robotic Systemz, while current ADAS sees both on-board and off-board computation working in tandem, when it comes to vehicle safety, on-board computation becomes the most critical. He explained: “Even with significant recent developments in on-board computer hardware for vehicles by companies, like NVIDIA, Qualcomm and many others, there is still a need to have good balance between cost effectiveness and high compute requirements with safe and reliable auto grade standards. Today the systems which are using cloud computation can only work well for non-real time, non-safety critical decisions because of latency and network coverage. This might change when we are on 5G but the network coverage will be an issue for mass deployment of these technologies globally.”

Connected vehicles to be about ecosystems

Lanctot feels that: “the automotive industry slowly coming around to recognise that it is a battle of platforms. We are not quite there yet.  Too many car makers are still trying to directly monetise vehicle connections with subscriptions and Wi-Fi access but the competition to bring automated driving to market is setting the stage for an automotive platform war.”

Isaac also puts his views as: “Instead of looking at it as a ‘battle of ecosystems’, I see it as an ‘isolation of ecosystems’. There is a need for a common denominator because what will hold many moving parts together so to avoid isolation of different ecosystems and, instead, create pervasive connectivity?” He gives the example of the relationship between connectivity of mobile device, the auto and the home. “If the phone can separately communicate with both the car and the home, then, factually, the car should be able to communicate with the home. As our systems become more complete, yet complex, developments must be made to better connect our technology to deliver the relevancy not just with respect to the vehicle but our lives.”

Vijay concluded: “The on-board computation really holds the pole position in the battle of ecosystem when it comes to safety, critical decisions and that is also justified with the major advances in creating them as well. There has been more than $120Bn (£92Bn) investments in last 12 months for systems that are really capable of handling on-board systems. The real power of any ADAS/AD system is when these two work in tandem wherein on-board systems is on a higher side than off-board but this can change with new connectivity technologies like 5G and better connectivity.”


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