Mr. Jaganathan Chelliah, Senior Director – Marketing, India, Middle East & TIA, Western Digital, in this article “Data Driving the Evolution of Car” talks about how modern automobile are data driven and data management and storage will play an important part in the evolution of the car.
Cars have profoundly changed our lives. Owning a car is a deep desire, and maybe that is why one of our first big-budget buys when we start earning money tends to be a car. By the end of the first quarter of 2022, there were approximately 1.45 billion vehicles in the world, of which about 1.1 billion are passenger cars. Cars have come a long way over the years, not just in terms of design but in the safety and comfort of the passengers, as well as on reducing environmental impacts. Automotive companies are also driving new and more agile development processes in automobile manufacturing.
A Data-Driven Revolution : The automotive industry is unlocking a world of applications around safety, connectivity, and entertainment. Advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) and autonomous vehicle (AV) functionality, infotainment, the digital cockpit, and the connected vehicle have all advanced significantly over the past few years. These advances have contributed to the continuing evolution of the automobile from a largely mechanical system to a modern data-driven, actuating vehicle. Applications such as high-definition 3D maps, ADAS, autonomous computers, enhanced infotainment, over-the-air (OTA) updates, and vehicle-to-X (V2X) technology, where X could be another vehicle or roadside infrastructure, are becoming some of the top differentiators for auto companies. Since all of these require onboard data storage, no wonder, cars are expected to have over 1TB of data storage very soon.
Data Drivers in Cars: Most of the data will be created by the sensor systems required for the early forms of ADAS and eventually by full autonomy, where cars truly drive themselves. Initial implementations of ADAS functionality (emergency braking, lane-change warning, pedestrian warning, etc.) utilized a single forward-facing camera system. As ADAS functions began to require autonomous actuation, additional cameras were gradually added to the automobile to give the vehicle a better understanding of its environment. In the middle tier, vehicles can contain anywhere from 1 to 4 cameras, while higher-end vehicles can contain anywhere from 5 to 10 cameras and autonomous research vehicles can have more than 20 cameras2.
As for the storage required, automotive cameras range from 1.5Gbps to 1.0TBps (4K), each generating 672GB–5.4TB of raw data per hour depending on the frames per second and bits per pixel2. For low visibility situations such as night-time and in poor weather, radar can help provide an additional sensing modality, as cameras are rendered slightly inadequate. Newer high-resolution radar can detect objects in more than two dimensions and even shape, and generate up to 375GBps of data. As cars become more complex, the management of data from computing to storage becomes one of the most challenging aspects of vehicle development and operation.
Data Management and Storage: The evolution of storage has taken a front seat as cars require increasing amounts of storage to enable applications both inside the vehicle and outside the car as it adapts to evolving infrastructures. The requirements and challenges of automotive edge storage vary significantly across different use cases. For example, specific applications in the car will require data to operate under extreme temperature conditions. In sweltering summers or freezing winters, a car’s interface and safety features need to be fully functional irrespective of the weather conditions. Additionally, some data in the connected car is only kept for a few seconds, while other data must be retained for days, months, or even years. As a result, different storage form factors are needed such as removable SDTM cards, e.MMC (embedded storage), and Universal Flash Storage (UFS).
In addition, today many cities are harnessing technology that will interact with the vehicle to improve safety and traffic. While still in their early stages, these advancements will continue to grow as vehicles become more capable. The number of sensors, cameras and technologies in cars such as LIDAR will increase with time and newer use cases, as will the amount of data generated and used. This will continue to drive the need for purpose-built storage products, and the storage industry can’t afford to be caught sleeping at the wheel.