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Understanding the collective wisdom of the car crowd

This article was originally published on LinkedIn.

Mapping has been around for thousands of years. One of the very first things that early humans painted on the walls of their caves were maps – pictures representing how they saw the world.

Maps are abstractions, and as humanity developed, we’ve gradually learned how to describe roads, mountains, lakes, cities, etc. They’ve allowed us to grasp the wider geo-context: how to best get from point A to point B, while pinpointing potential challenges one might encounter on the journey.

If we consider this in a historical context, looking back from the vantage point of 2019, the development of mapping has essentially happened in slow-motion. Explorers, geographers, cartographers and travellers needed to physically go experience places, where they’d measure and delineate their findings to later publish.

A mapping revolution from in-car sensors

We are now on the cusp of a new era of mapping, where this relatively ‘static’ knowledge is set to be disrupted by millions of sensors, courtesy of the increasing number of connected cars on the roads worldwide.

This is what we call ‘the wisdom of the car crowd.’ It’s the collective experience of millions of sensored vehicles on the road, all sharing relevant knowledge and data insights with the wider road network in real-time.

We are rapidly moving into an era where billions of in-car sensors and smart devices are capable of instantly uploading highly-accurate data to an accumulative cloud, referencing what each respective vehicle is doing, seeing and experiencing at any given moment.

This is a revolution – suddenly your grasp of what is happening at a certain location is propelled into a different dimension thanks to real-time data.

Hive-mind safety and hazard warnings

Hypothetically speaking, if you asked someone for directions on a rainy evening, that person might warn you to be even more cautious of slippery conditions on some of the more dangerous roads along your route…

Thankfully there’s a better way to receive this kind of useful insight — safety services and hazard warnings are now shared automatically, thanks to the ‘hive mind.’ Vehicle-to-vehicle communication helps make driving a safer activity, and everyone’s mobility much more enjoyable, reliable and even predictable.

Consumerization drives mapping innovation

These days, we’re constantly seeing industries being disrupted through tech and consumerization. When products go mass market and modernized models emerge, fresh insights are gathered, and new businesses are created.

This is largely possible due to the investment in pooling relevant data information from billions of consumers worldwide – including drivers.

Today’s cars are transmitting millions of various data points that allow drivers to perform tasks and experience many functions that were not easily accessible or even possible in the past.

However, it’s not without its challenges. The issue at hand for the tech, mapping and automotive industries is to properly aggregate and interpret all the data received from every vehicle, and to accurately make sense of it all. That, in a nutshell, is what HERE does as a business.

New insights from every car on the road

With millions of vehicles delivering data to the cloud to be cross-analysed in real-time, more drivers are able to better evaluate traffic conditions, visibility factors and potential hazards.

Like road friction, for example. Drivers can now receive instant information that will help them estimate how hard to brake, taking the current weather forecast and environmental surface conditions into consideration.

These types of insights have allowed both mankind and machines alike to become incredibly smart, encouraging us to continuously find innovative ways to optimize the world in which we live.

All of this is enabled through machine knowledge that makes sense of the data that comes from the car crowd. And in the future, every car will become a contributor.

Accordingly, we’re approaching the age where autonomous vehicle navigation systems will continually evolve, as the geospatial data will need to support a variety of components, characteristics and capabilities as the world continues to advance.

That’s precisely why business is booming for those producing these specialized types of maps that are based on ‘the wisdom of the car crowd.’ While today’s advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) are already helping connected cars safely navigate the roads, tomorrow they’ll ultimately allow autonomous cars to navigate themselves.

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Join me at CES

HERE will be demonstrating and discussing its latest autonomous driving initiatives further at CES 2019.

If you’re keen to know more, you can hear me speak on the HERE CES Highlights Stage on January 9 at 4pm.

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