The Data Battleground

There is a deluge of data being generated by the modern connected car.

So, carmakers are relying on technologies such as cloud platforms, telecom infrastructure, high-performance computing, software platforms and machine learning tools to manage the degree of data flexibility. Aseem Uppal, senior automotive analyst at IHS Markit points out that, of all the data that is being generated, not all of it is relevant, as a great deal of personal data is also being generated.

“OEMs are making a differentiation when it comes to personal data and anonymized data to create use cases that manage user’s privacy, security, and privacy concerns,” Uppal explains. “Connected car data monetization requires key enablers across broad categories, and key decisions include determining which elements need to be processed onboard versus in the cloud.”

A multitude of use cases already exist in today’s market. Connected car services such as remote diagnostics, remote vehicle control, eCall, Bcall and Real-time traffic monitoring have already seen increasing adoption of trends among the consumers. “Going forward, with the advent of 5G technology in the automotive ecosystem, we can expect a further increase in adoption rates of other potential use cases as well such as OTA updates, V2X, UBI and in-car commerce,” Uppal says.

According to him, to make the best possible use of this data boom and capitalize on the car data monetization opportunities, automotive players need to understand the customer value proposition across different regions. They also need to be transparent with data sharing guidelines and build use cases with potential to create value for both manufacturers and suppliers.

Lawrence Williams, founder and CEO of Merlin Mobility believes that in the event of an emergency, the ability to tap into the automaker’s built-in controls and use them to navigate a car or driver to safety, only serves to increase the opportunity for more people to drive and decrease risk. “As aftermarket kits begin to provide solutions for tailored and specific driver segments, OEMs and insurance providers will need to be more flexible in how data is shared,” Williams explains.

In a hyper-connected world, caution must be taken when discussing the distribution and use of vehicle data. Historically, the carmakers have viewed this data as proprietary but situations like emergency response beg the question: how can that data serve a greater purpose than a manufacturer profiting from and tailoring customer acquisition?

“Car insurance is a proven and fair response to how vehicle data distribution leads to safer roads, fewer accidents, and streamlined traffic management. However, as the technological landscape continues to shift, we cannot move forward without allowing for data exchanges to third-parties and applications that would engage both OEMs and insurance providers,” Williams says.

Telematic control units are struggling to manage the enormous volumes of data being produced as vehicles become more connected. New sensors and applications are feeding decision-making processes through the use of machine vision, analytics, and artificial intelligence (AI). These applications and processes are in need of real-time information from sensors such as cameras, radar and LiDAR to make smart decisions.

“Intel is predicting a smart vehicle will produce 4TB of data for every 1.5 hours on the road. With that volume of data, automakers are struggling with how much information is openly available to third parties while also securing the system from malicious intent,” Williams concludes. According to him, one emerging strategy takes some of the heavy-lifting off the TCU by processing only real-time needs locally and passing subsets of data to the cloud. More complex AI and analytics can unburden the TCU by making use of ultra-low latency Network Edge Compute technologies.

Alex Leonov, managing director of MotoLink LLC points out that TCUs can harvest vehicle data using both the onboard ECU and its own built-in sensors. Reaching the right balance between the Edge and the Cloud is extremely important for a telematic device. Edge computing can eliminate unnecessary data traffic. “Latency requirements vary greatly by application. Anything related to safety, for example, V2X applications, autonomous driving and ADAS, requires real-time data. Contextual offers also need to be delivered in real-time, although they are not as time sensitive,” Leonov explains.

However, non-critical diagnostic data and driver behavior statistics do not require real-time. Adoption of 5G technology promises to solve latency challenges, but the coverage may remain limited. “Perhaps, in combination with DSRC infrastructure and Wi-Fi-based V2X, it will be sufficient for autonomous vehicles,” Leonov says. “I think that the new generations of TCUs need to be designed to support all of these technologies.”

A software-defined vehicle concept is quickly becoming a reality. Cars and trucks generate enormous amounts of vehicle and driver behavioral data daily. This data is valuable to carmakers and suppliers, as well as content and service providers including dealers, fleet operators, insurance companies, retailers, gas stations, etc. “Before this valuable data can be analyzed and monetized, however, it needs to be harvested from the vehicle. OEMs need to build a secure and reliable vehicle-to-cloud data exchange platform not only to collect the vehicle data but to push OTA software updates, deliver content, and more. Cyber-security is of utmost importance, and such systems are normally built using a closed loop architecture.”

There are a number of ways to monetize vehicle data. The two main categories are cost savings and new revenue generation. OTA software updates and early recall management can save automakers millions of dollars. Real-time data feeds will also help their R&D efforts tremendously. End users further benefit from their riding behavior analysis and custom UBI offers. “While many modern cars come with factory-installed TCUs, that is not the case for motorcycles, scooters, ATVs and other powersports vehicles. Only recently, the leading powersports OEMs started equipping their flagship models with TCUs,” Leonov says.

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