IoT devices can help in the constant monitoring of autonomous vehicles, thereby helping to prevent vehicle accidents.
The automotive industry has been longing for years to bring the revolutionary concept of autonomous cars to reality. In addition to the numerous other benefits of the technology, it was expected that the use of driverless cars would reduce road fatalities by 90%. But still, there is much frequent news being heard about the accidents caused by autonomous cars. For instance, an autonomous car crashed into a road divider in the mountain view, California. There are many more such instances where humans have become a victim of self-driving cars fatalities. The vision of automotive industry giants to bring autonomous cars on the roads with minimum accidents can be made a reality with the help of IoT. IoT helps physical devices to connect over the internet and communicate among themselves. The IoT devices can be controlled to perform actions like monitoring the condition of the vehicle and avoiding collisions, which can help reduce accidents caused by autonomous cars. The collection and exchange of data in real-time can help sensors to sense sudden changes that can take place on the roads. There are many ways where IoT can help minimize autonomous vehicle accidents.
How IoT Can Minimize Autonomous Cars Accidents
To err is indeed human, and most of the accidents caused today are due to human errors. The use of self-driving cars will eliminate the need for humans, thereby eliminating the chances of accidents. But, autonomous cars are also vulnerable to road fatalities due to factors like swift changes on roads and extreme weather conditions among others. Merging the IoT technology with autonomous cars will enable real-time data communications among cars and administrators, which can help the cars respond to sudden changes. Let’s delve deep into how merging two technologies can further revolutionize the revolution itself:
1. Monitoring the Condition of Vehicle
Regulatory enforcement ensures that the vehicles hitting the road are safe and reliable. With IoT, vehicles can undergo real-time monitoring. Some of the factors that can be monitored to know the working condition of the vehicles are:
- Exhaust gas temperature and gas flow velocity:
With real-time monitoring of exhaust gas temperature, administrators of autonomous vehicles can keep a check on the air-fuel ratio of self-driving cars. Monitoring gas flow velocity would help understand the impact of gas flow on the gas turbine engine.
- Engine revolution:
The speed of the car can be monitored with the use of IoT, which can help in maintaining the velocity of autonomous cars in dense and spacious regions. Whenever an autonomous car is in a dense region, the car administrators can keep a constant eye on the sensor information. The car administrators can then reduce the speed of the car or put a break, wherever necessary.
- Vehicle tilt angle:
Tilt angle is the angle at which a car can be driven diagonally on a slope. At present, the tilt angle of a car is measured statically on a ramp, which is not accurate. Also, the tilt angle can change with a change of wheels. IoT can provide real-time and accurate monitoring of a vehicle’s tilt angle.
- Ambient temperature:
Ambient temperature is the temperature of the car in relation to the environment. If the ambient temperature of a vehicle rises or falls, it can affect the engine’s performance. IoT devices can help monitor the ambient temperature of a car on a real-time basis. IoT devices can detect and notify if the engine has heated up. When the condition of the vehicle is monitored constantly, it can always be maintained in an optimal condition. An alert is always given to the administrator whenever there is a damage in the vehicle. Hence, IoT can help administrators repair the vehicle as soon as any damage is caused or detected, thereby reducing accidents.
2. Avoiding Collisions
Vehicular collisions can occur between two vehicles, a vehicle and a human, or a vehicle and its surrounding structures. Through the use of inter-vehicular communications, an autonomous car can communicate with its surroundings. For instance, a safe space distance between two vehicles or between vehicles and surrounding structures can be measured and inserted in a database that is used by autonomous cars. When the autonomous car is close to any vehicle or object which is closer than the safe distance, the backup drivers can be notified to take control of the vehicle. If there is no backup driver in the vehicle, then the administrators of the car can be notified. Some of the accidents may occur while parking the autonomous cars. It can be frustrating to know that after all the hard work of controlling autonomous cars throughout the journey, an accident takes place at the end of the journey. IoT can help make smart parking systems to reduce parking congestion, which will avoid autonomous car collisions while parking.
3. Monitoring the Weather
The inability to deal with uncertain and extreme weather conditions is a major challenge in bringing autonomous cars to the mainstream. Radar and LIDAR sensors recognize other vehicles, and cameras recognize the markers on the road for its effective working. But what if the roads are covered with snow or fog? If the roads are covered with fog, then the sensors won’t be able to recognize other vehicles or objects on the roads. And, if the road surface is covered with snow, then the cameras won’t be able to capture the markers on the road. Both cases might lead to autonomous car accidents. Using IoT and GPS navigational systems will help get the real-time location of the vehicle and the weather on the route. Through all the weather-related data collected by the IoT devices in an area, the weather conditions of that area can be communicated with the autonomous cars. It will prevent the accidents caused because of weather conditions as administrators can take preventive measures to tackle the weather conditions. The use of IoT can also provide an alert on dangers like frozen roads, damaged roads, and accident-prone areas.
4. Notifying about System Failure
Imagine you get into a car, and the dashboard light shows up that the car tires have low pressure. But when you get out of the car, you notice that the tires are intact. This might have happened with a lot of people many times, and it happens because of system failure. There are usually many circumstances where the sensors of autonomous cars fail or may go faulty for a moment, leading to road accidents. For instance, an autonomous car killed a pedestrian in Arizona. The accident was caused as the sensors of the car were not able to locate the pedestrian. IoT devices can be monitored during the journey; hence, the malfunction of any system in the autonomous car can be easily detected. Administrators can be notified about the system failure so that relevant measures can be taken quickly. For example, if a sensor failure is detected in the car, then the administrators can be notified about it. The administrators can then control and slow down the speed of the car and stop the car to prevent fatalities.
Investors of automotive companies are investing more and more in autonomous vehicles to provide better transportation to the commuters. The autonomous vehicle market size is $54.23 billion in 2019 and is expected to accumulate $556.67 billion by 2026 at a CAGR of 39.47%. But, today’s autonomous cars are like teenagers; there is a need to teach them to communicate effectively and drive safely. Self-driving cars might never be perfect, but embedding IoT technology into autonomous cars will surely reduce the fatalities count. In the years to come, autonomous car accidents will be as rare as hens’ teeth, thanks to IoT.