The Impact Smart Cars and Smart Cities will have on Driving
You are late to work, searching in vain for parking. Metered spaces are full and the overpriced lots are filling fast. For its many visitors, how does the smart city avoid the dawning of an “aparkalypse?” The answer is in our cars and the emerging IoT ecosystem. The advent of connected smart cars has the potential to not only improve parking but also increase mobility and improve overall safety.
Parking availability alerts, now available via Google Maps in 25 cities from San Francisco to Tampa, could drastically reduce the number of cars trolling for parking, which would reduce pollution and gas consumption. Parking takes up one-third of all land area in some cities, and privately-owned cars spend 95% of the time not being used.
In the longer term, with the introduction of autonomous cars and effective M2M device management in London and other cities, “we could see a reduction in the number of parking lots,” says Nathaniel Giraitis, strategy director at Smart Design. “As cars park themselves further afield, it creates opportunities for space to be used for more sustainable purposes.”
The evolution of connected cars, or smart cars, to safer and more convenient self-driving cars depends on accurate, real-time location services. Nokia’s “HERE” in-dash navigation system relies on detailed, three-dimensional, computerized maps that pinpoint a car’s location and understand its surroundings. This digital mapping is crucial because even the most advanced radar and cameras are not enough navigational firepower to allow occupants to lean back and snooze.
With more than four million miles of roads in the US alone, creating digital maps is a monumental task. HERE draws on data generated by scanning systems that trucking companies have agreed to install on their vehicles and from its own fleet of Audis, BMWs, and Mercedes collecting images and is working on algorithms to enable computers to annotate the maps — the other big technological challenge. Waymo, Mobileye, and a start-up called Civil Maps are all working on systems that follow suit.
Clear and consistent pavement striping and other on-road markings for staying on course would help smart cars with lane assist and centering features, as well as driverless cars. Those markings vary from state to state and even within a state. Michigan is testing information-sharing between connected vehicles and stoplights, as well as pavement sensors to help manage traffic flow. The city of Ann Arbor continues to increase IoT scalability by adding applications to its traffic data network, including a test facility for connected and autonomous cars and is expanding its fiber-optic network to accommodate the increase in data.
By evaluating not only the digital communications infrastructure but also the streets, signage, and other elements of transportation systems now, smart cities will be ready to take advantage of the benefits connected cars can bring.