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Data consumption in the autonomous vehicle

When vehicles travel autonomously on our roads in the future, they will not only need fuel in the form of gasoline, diesel, electricity or hydrogen. Above all, the vehicle of the future needs information in the form of live data about its environment in order to safely move autonomously. Some of the data are captured by the vehicle itself, while some are supplied by a service from the cloud – the electronic horizon. Large volumes of data in other words, that have to be transferred continuously. This brings up the issue of the required data volume – will the consumption of a vehicle not only be measured in litres per 100km in the future, but also in bits & bytes per kilometre?

As a navigation provider, we are one of the leaders in the development of the cloud-based electronic horizon. Currently we have completed initial measurements to determine data consumption for our electronic horizon and to provide automobile manufacturers with indications of the data volumes and costs that can be expected for the future.

Autonomous driving depends on data

Autonomous driving means vast amounts of radar, ultrasound and laser sensor data as well as cameras that continuously monitor the area around the vehicle in order to steer it correctly. It also means exact information about the area several hundred metres in front of the vehicle, which cannot even be sampled by the sensors yet.

Example: you are driving on the motorway and set the cruise control to 130. There are roadworks ahead of you. The electronic horizon informs the vehicle of the 80km/h speed limit for the roadworks ahead and starts reducing the speed in a timely manner. It quasi “coasts” towards the roadworks, intelligently reducing the speed in order to reach the traffic sign at the specified 80km/h without braking. Without the electronic horizon, the vehicle would have to rely on its cameras to abruptly register the speed limit. Since the range of optical sign recognition is only a few metres, this would result in hard braking just before the roadworks. The electronic horizon provides a more elegant solution and this forward-looking driving style also reduces fuel consumption.

How does the cloud-based electronic horizon work?

The electronic horizon from infoware is supplied with all information about the road ahead from the cloud: the radius of curves, incline/decline, road class, speed limits, traffic and weather data, road conditions and more. That means the vehicle knows in advance what is coming, before it can even see and measure the route. This requires a highly precise road geometry to serve as a basis for the continuous comparison of data currently measured by the vehicle. Lane edges, bicycle lanes, guard rails, centre lines and lane marker lines all have to be supplied by the electronic horizon, down to every detail. If an obstacle suddenly appears, the vehicle has to perform avoidance manoeuvres and should therefore know whether there is a concrete barrier to the right of it or whether a bridge pier is coming up ahead, even if it cannot detect them yet with its sensors. Here the greatest possible redundancy improves safety.

Initial data consumption tests for data transfer from the cloud

infoware has now conducted initial consumption tests in order to provide automobile manufacturers with an indication of the data volumes that can be expected.

Driving on the motorway and in urban areas was simulated. Statistical ADAS road data and dynamic data were transferred in the test:

  • Radius of curves
  • Incline
  • Current traffic flow speeds
  • Functional road classes
  • Speed limits
  • And so on ...

The required data volume was between 30 kByte/100km (motorway) and 227 kByte/100km (urban area). Optimisation measures will make it possible to significantly reduce the transmitted data volume. At the same time however, we expect demand for more and higher-resolution data. Therefore these figures already serve as a good indication of the expected magnitudes.

This means between 9 and 68MB per year will be transmitted with an annual mileage of 30,000km. That is not a lot, so the question arises whether digital road maps even have to be permanently stored in the vehicle at all. This would be a fundamentally new approach. Currently however, all automobile manufacturers are still assuming that a complete map has to be permanently stored in the vehicle. Often these maps are obsolete by the time the vehicle first gets on the road. Issues surrounding incremental map updates and the NDS map format could theoretically be made irrelevant as well. Good reasons to keep developing and analysing this topic. The excitement continues!

The electronic horizon supplies the data that the vehicle cannot capture itself with its sensors. They complement the vehicle data to maximise safety:

+ Highly precise map data as reference data (with lane information such as lane edges, guardrails, concrete barriers, bicycle lanes, sidewalks, broken or solid lines and the like)

+ Dynamic data: traffic data, weather data, roadworks and so on

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