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Driverless Cars Prove Problematic for Storage

Driverless cars once seemed like a thing of the future, but it’s likely to become the standard alongside advanced driver-assistance systems. Not only do they offer us great amounts of freedom, but also safety – there’s no such thing as human error when it comes to a machine.

However, for all the benefits driverless cars bring, there’s a problem when it comes to data. They produce huge amounts of it during development and deployment. The amount of data being produced is unprecedented as is unlike anything seen in the automobile industry.

Take Twitter as an example. With 270 million users, it produces about 100GB of data per day. An autonomous car produces about 30TB per day – and that’s just for a single vehicle, let alone an entire fleet.

While modern cars do produce data now, it certainly is nowhere near the same rate as their automated counterparts. And automated cars are expected to be on the road longer than traditional vehicles, meaning more data is produced for an unknown amount of time.

The volume of data being produced isn’t the only problem. There’s also the need to tag the data which is being produced; the metadata which will be used to advance the machine learning and artificial intelligence, and then making it searchable for use in research and development.

While traditional data store can be disposable, at least in personal use, it’s not known whether automobile data can have the same luxury. Data may need to be stored permanently to protect car manufacturers against lawsuits – if their cars are the ones controlling the actions on the road, those logs need to be stored should the technology encounter issues.

The amount of data that needs to be stored will vary for each company. As the industry grows, it will become clear what data needs to be kept and what can be disposed of. At the moment, though, many are uncertain.

Aptiv is a supplier for autonomous vehicle technology. Their chief technical officer, Glen De Vos, says that they’ve learnt what type of data they need to keep over the years. However, he acknowledges that not every company will have the same luxury and it’ll take time for them to learn their data storage needs.

Hyundai generates around 10GB of data every second from its automated vehicles, but it only stores what is considered essential. Some of it is stored on the vehicle, while the rest is either off-loaded to a server or uploaded to the cloud.

“For development reasons we’re going to want to record, store and share, but not all, because most driving is quite boring,” says Gill Pratt, Toyota Research Institute CEO. “I think the government is putting in a window of time around certain types of events, and for the most part you don’t have to store the other stuff.”

Data is the lifeblood of every modern company and the same is true for the automobile industry now. They generate all this data and they want to keep it too. Varun Chhabra, senior director-product marketing at Dell EMC, says “it is the crown jewels.” Time for them to figure out how to store it, then.


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