On June 26, the Autotech Council held our meeting in San Jose, co-located with the Sensors Expo and Conference. Naturally, it made sense to discuss the subject of sensors, as they are used for cars and more generally for Transportation and Mobility. But for this year, we tried to focus our sensor meeting on "out of the car" sensors - that is, sensors that are not just those that are installed in a vehicle for the use in that vehicle, but rather sensors that share information between vehicles and infrastructure. These could be municipal sensors or open data pools that share data back into vehicles, or sensors within vehicles that provide value to the municpality or to other vehicles.
Some top ideas that we heard around our topic included:
- air quality sensors that can alert cars when it's best to ingest outside air, or when best to recycle interior air
- traffic light sensors that optimize personal routing, or other municipal needs like emergency response route optimization
- sensors that measure road quality and prioritize road repair and preventative maintenance
- using cars or fleets as mobile sensors for a wide range of useful public objectives (noise abatement, traffic, air)
A good portion of the meeting revolved around public-private partnerships to achieve these complicated alliances, but also the need for neutral third-party hosting of shared and aggregated data from a variety of vehicle types. The coordination required is immense, because it stretches across a wide range of vehicle makers on the one side, and an even wider range of governmental agencies on the other.
One optimistic take-away is that, for many of the ideas discussed at our meeting, despite the complexity of the solutions, not all participants are required to get on board before benefits can be realized. For example, a small portion of cars equipped with air quality sensors could provide enough data that 100% of vehicles could use. Rimalu Technologies explained that a 1% attach rate would be adequate to provide useful data to a municipal data host or neutral third party, so the hurdles aren't insurmountable. How do we avoid the "free rider" problem, where vehicles don't need to provide data once the 1% threshold is met? Well, government could set up a "must share in to share out" rule, where at least a commitment to share in the future is required to pull data out.
Thanks to all who presented at our meeting, and to our sponsor, Stradvision. As always, Autotech Council members can access presentations from this meeting in the Member Library.