How IoT, Autonomous Cars & Smart Cities Will Develop

Jan 18, 2019 by

Internet of Things, autonomous cars and smart cities are concepts that have intrigued many people for a long time. They are subjects that for the majority, they exist only in movies and television shows, but the past few years have seen them transform into reality in various shapes and forms.  

Through Internet of Things, it is possible to achieve connectivity for multiple devices to the internet which you can then manipulate to achieve a variety of results.  

Autonomous cars, for example, can use IoT to update their algorithms based on the user data they have. It should be understood that autonomous cars need a large amount of data collected and processed so that they can function as desired.  

With the use of IoT technology, these cars can share information regarding traffic, which routes to take, and how to avoid obstacles for safe rides. These and other data will be shared with the help of IoT technology with other connected cars and the analyzed for better optimization.  

The role of IoT in Autonomous cars 

Self-driving cars differ from one manufacturer to another, but the role of IoT technology will remain the same in all of them. These cars use a series of a radar laser as well as very powerful cameras to determine the path they need to take and also to map out the car’s surrounding.  

The IoT technology fitted in the cars is what is used to process the feedback from the cameras and the radar lasers, map out the car’s path and send instructions to the car’s control.  

Every autonomous car also has a powerful obstacle avoidance and predictive modeling systems which the car uses to avoid crashing and to follow all the traffic rules.  

It should also be noted that autonomous cars exist in various levels and this will impact the nature of IoT technology used on them. Here is a brief look at the various levels of autonomous cars: 

  • Level 0 – these refer to cars that rely on complete human control 
  • Level 1 – these cars require some level of driver assistance. They have features like cruise control which is now a very common feature in most modern cars.  
  • Level 2 – partial automation where the car can brake, accelerate, and steer itself. At this level, the driver is still completely responsible, and they must always keep their hands on the wheels if they don’t want to crash. Examples of this technology include Cadillac Super Cruise, Mercedes Benz Driver Assistance, and Audi Traffic Jam Assist.  
  • Level 3 – Conditional automation. With this, the car’s technology does most of the things for the driver, though the driver should still be ready to take control of the car. 
  • Level 4 – high automation – when the car is on the right road, and the conditions are also right, it is possible for cars with this level of automation to operate without any form of human assistance.  
  • Level 5 – full automation – with this level of automation, self-driving is possible, and the car can operate in any road and under any conditions that ordinarily a human being would. All you have to do is enter your destination and the car will get you there. This technology is not yet ready for human use, but it can be seen in movies such as Minority Report, Batman and iRobot.  

With today’s cities facing a lot of transportation challenges, IoT is not just handy in helping planners and policymakers to come up with the best plans for the city, it is a technology that it is currently being used to ease the movement within and around cities.

Its use is not just restricted to designing and operating autonomous cars, but also it can be used to enhance the flow of traffic and in and around cities for enhanced mobility.  

IoT and Smart Cities 

With 70% of the world’s population expected to live in urban areas by 2050, there is a genuine concern that such cities should be in a position to comfortably and conveniently accommodate the population.  

To ensure that this demand will be met, cities and municipalities around the world are resorting to the use of IoT technologies to enhance service delivery, lower the costs of service provision, and improve interaction and communication amongst the city dwellers.  

Though IoT can be used to improve every aspect of the city life, here are a few ways it will be used to develop smart cities in the few coming years.

Improving water supply 

Through the Internet of Things, the way cities consumer their water can be greatly enhanced. For example, smart meters can be installed along the supply and distribution lines to improve leak detection and data integrity so that the supply revenue and efficiency can be increased. The meters can also have customer portals where users will be able to access real-time data about their consumption.  

Easing traffic congestion in cities  

With the population increasing, traffic congestion in the cities will also increase – though it is a huge problem even at the present times. However, the use of IoT technology may have real solutions to this problem.  

For example, smart traffic signals can be used to control the flow of traffic in and around the cities such that they adjust accordingly depending on how busy the roads are. This system will be built using existing infrastructure like traffic barriers outfitted with special sensors to help communicate vital information on public roads.  

The authorities can also use sensors to monitor vehicles and traffic incidents in real time. It can also be used to alert drivers of accidents so that they can use alternative routes to avoid traffic jams.  

Energy efficient buildings 

A major component of smart cities is smart buildings, and IoT technology has shown very promising results with regards to the construction of energy efficient buildings.  

With research showing that commercial buildings are losing up to 30% of their energy, IoT has very robust solutions for ensuring optimal use of energy within buildings.  

This may including switching lights on and off automatically and only when it is necessary, opening and closing louvers just to allow an optimum amount of light.  

These are just a few examples of how IoT can be used in the construction of energy efficient buildings as part of the smart cities.  

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