Google is creating a vehicle that drives itself. This isn’t really news, right? They’re testing it all over the place, and it’s on the roads in California, at least on highways and freeways (it’s my understanding Google employees are required to be hands-on on side streets and residential areas) and few would argue that the era of computer-driven vehicles is coming soon.
I was discussing this and other Internet of Everything subjects with a friend and we covered some interesting theories around what technology or society might look like in the next several years. Napkin math ensued and the results made my jaw drop.
Now…this is napkin math, literally. The numbers are from legitimate sources, but the extrapolation is pure speculation. Bear with me though, and let’s see where this goes.
There are approximately 247.9 million cars and light trucks in the US, based on a 2013 Experian Automotive market analysis. According to the US Department of Transportation (DoT), US drivers travel approximately 3 trillion miles annually. Also from the US DoT, vehicles travel at an average speed of 32 miles per hour.
I’d scan in a copy of the actual napkin but you wouldn’t be able to read it. (The one in this article is a recreation)
Here are our Napkin Math results: there are 10.7 million cars and/or light trucks traveling US roads at any given point in time. That’s about 4.3% efficiency. Roughly 96% of American vehicles are sitting idle and unused at any given time.
Flash back to 1998, my father was the Y2K Project Manager for a large utility company where I grew up. If you don’t know what Y2K was, please go quietly Google it and don’t make me feel any older than I already am by leaving comments asking what it is. Over the course of his involvement in readying his company for the unavoidable doomsday that would befall them on January 1st 2000, he learned and shared a number of interesting facts that came to light in organizations troubleshooting their potential Y2K issues.
One of these was focused on commercial airlines. Airplanes became a big concern as the Y2K doomsday criers all said they would suddenly fall from the sky at midnight because they had been programmed with 2-digit dates instead of 4. To fix them they needed to be on the ground, obviously but (and here is the interesting fact that my Dad shared with me) apparently something like 60% of the world’s aircraft were in the air at any given time and there wasn’t enough runway space to park them all.
There are many ways to look at that information and dissect it. My take is that commercial airlines are extremely efficient in how they schedule their aircraft. A plane sitting in a hangar is not generating any revenue, so maximize the time spent in the air, and minimize downtime. This makes perfect sense. Compare this to the 4.3% efficiency we have with cars in the US and you’ll start to see where I’m going with this.
Looking at some more current numbers, the FAA’s 2011 fleet report outlines there were 7185 commercial airliners in the United States. Data from a few different sources (Flightaware, FAA) suggests that on average, there are about 3500 of these in the air at any given time. That’s an estimated efficiency of 48.7%. Not perfect, but comparing that to vehicle efficiency, it’s excellent.
What if we could apply that same level of efficiency to our own vehicles?
Now, back to the conversation I was having with a friend around interconnected devices and the future. Imagine your car is now fully automated, and driver-less. You use it for your usual morning commute, but instead of sitting idle in a parking lot somewhere, it takes on other tasks throughout the day until you need it again to drive you home. There are any number of possibilities here, from ad-hoc taxi service, to deliveries, to driving other people to their respective places of work. Let’s assume that all of these vehicles are somehow interconnected and are managed by a centralized scheduling application, which is in turn connected to the smartphone in everyone’s pocket. Getting a ride somewhere becomes rather simple, doesn’t it? Pull out your phone, schedule it, done. Impromptu decision to go for dinner? Grab your phone, and the nearest available smart car arrives in minutes to pick you up. Efficiency skyrockets not only because the time on the road is maximized, but with the driver-less vehicle, speed is also increased, so the gains are two-fold.
If cars at this point essentially become communal, why would anyone even own their own car? Could they become a part of the core infrastructure of a city?
Okay, back to napkin math. Let’s see what would happen if we were able to achieve present-day airline efficiency with the future of interconnected devices and driver-less cars.
10.7 million vehicles (active and on the road) at 4.3% efficiency = approximately 248 million cars.
10.7 million vehicles (active and on the road) at 48.7% efficiency = approximately 22 million cars.
Just by increasing vehicle usage efficiency from 4.3% to 48.7% -- we could (potentially) eliminate 226 million vehicles!
So many questions come to mind. What about the impact to the economy, auto manufacturers and jobs? Will people be willing to give up their ownership of a personal vehicle? Will we actually ever see mass adoption of a driver-less vehicle on our streets and roadways?
As more and more devices become interconnected, it’s difficult to know what the future will look like but the potential at least seems promising.
How do you see the Internet of Everything impacting your daily commute?
We’re connecting more of our world every day through smart, IP-enabled devices ranging from home appliances, healthcare devices, and industrial equipment. These new connected devices are offering new ways to share information and are changing the way we live. This technology transformation is what we call the Internet of Things (IoT) – and it is evolving daily.
Yet, as our connected lives grow and become richer, the need for a new security model becomes even more critical. It requires that we work together as a community to find innovative solutions to make sure that the IoT securely fulfills its potential and preserves the convenience that it represents.
With this in mind, Cisco is launching the Internet of Things Security Grand Challenge. We’re inviting you — the global security community — to propose practical security solutions across the markets being impacted daily by the IoT.
I recently had the pleasure of talking to Tony Shakib and Navdeep Johar at a recent Cisco Live event, and asked both to talk about The Internet of Things and what it means for business, particularly industrial businesses.
Tony Shakib, Vice President, Business Solutions, Cisco
“Internet of things is the foundation; how do you make the sensors a lot smarter; how do you generate a lot more data from it; and how do you monetize and control the data so that you could put it into interesting applications….the next step is we’re trying to put all these technologies in the context of vertical [industry] applications”
As connections on the Internet of Everything (IoE) continue to grow, we’ve asked our employees to tell us how and what they’re connecting.
Cisco Fellow Flavio Bonomi describes how one team is helping to bring a collection of smart, connected vehicles online. What does that mean for us? Vehicles that can provide dynamic collision-avoidance systems, better fuel efficiency, and help decrease pollution and gridlock. And that’s just for starters. Here’s the entire story: Read More »
In 1983, Clark W. Griswold and his family embarked on an epic road trip across the country, encountering numerous obstacles on their way to Wally World. The film, National Lampoon’s Vacation, was released during a time when the family road trip was an American staple and exaggeratedly illustrated some of driving’s biggest pain points. From getting lost in not-so-pleasant areas and running out of gas in the middle of the desert, to finally reaching your destination only to find it closed, it is easy to imagine how in today’s world of constant connectivity, these problems could be easily avoided. Cisco is doing its part in laying the groundwork for a fully connected driving experience – bringing the power of the Internet of Everything to the streets.
Working with the Think Global Eco System, including companies like Sude (smart mobility), Urbiotica (sensors) and Citelum (smart lighting), Cisco recently showcased what could be considered one of the smartest streets in the world. The “Connected Boulevard” in Nice, France, the world’s first Internet of Everything (IoE) proof-of-concept for a smart city, showcases what IoE can enable for a connected world and for connected transportation. The project is more than just a street loaded with sensors; the PoC will serve as a blueprint for future deployments, taking the lessons learned from Nice and other innovative cities and sharing this information with other aspiring communities.
Two of the city services will directly affect the driving experience in Nice. The smart circulation technology will tackle city traffic by offering intelligent parking solutions. With about 25 percent of urban traffic caused by those looking for parking, the solutions will significantly reduce the time it currently takes for drivers in Nice to find a parking space. The smart lighting solutions will optimize street lighting intensity based on situational factors. For example, a streetlight will automatically increase the amount of light it provides when motion is detected within its effective range. Conversely, the light will dim when there is no movement.
This type of deployment may not be too far off for a U.S. city also. Already, Cisco is working with Streetline and the cities of San Mateo, CA and San Carlos, CA to tackle smart circulation and smart parking. Citizens and visitors to downtown San Mateo or Laurel Street in San Carlos are able to easily find parking spaces through the use of a free mobile application, which connects to a network of sensors. With the PoC, San Mateo, San Carlos and cities like them will find it easier to adopt smart city technologies and implement them successfully.
Check out this video about the Connected Boulevard project in Nice:
Cisco is not only looking to change transportation from outside the vehicle, but from inside as well. We’re living in times of changing consumer propensities for automotive technology. The Cisco Connected Customer Experience Report on the automotive industry recently showed that consumers are open and willing to adopt these new technologies, from autonomous vehicles or biometric monitoring. In fact, 57% of those surveyed would be likely to ride in a car controlled entirely by technology and does not require a human driver. This “Internet of cars” will create new business models for auto manufacturers and technology companies, and Cisco is able to provide the highly secure core network to enable and optimize new technologies. Cisco seeks to play an instrumental role in connecting vehicles to other vehicles, devices, the cloud and city infrastructures. Through partnerships with companies such as NXP and Cohda Wireless, Cisco is looking to embrace the next wave of innovation with in-car technologies.
The Internet of Everything provides enormous potential for transportation. When a car is connected to the street it is driving on, a host of capabilities could improve safety, traffic congestion, parking and the overall driving experience. Car-to-car and car-to-X communications could be used to avoid accidents, provide rapid assistance for those who need it or optimize routes to avoid traffic jams. Emergency vehicles could connect with streetlights, creating a faster response time to emergencies. These capabilities are not just possible, but inevitable. By “connecting the unconnected,” the morning commute (or the great American family roundtrip) could be safer, quicker and less stressful.