Edge computing is not a niche technology or minor consideration in network and application planning. Edge computing is a strategic element of the technology stack in almost every market segment today. Or it should be.
Several leaders in the automotive sector recognized this imperative with the announcement of the newly created “Automotive Edge Computing Consortium”. See Toyota’s press release here. DENSO Corporation, Ericsson, Intel Corporation, Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation (NTT), NTT DOCOMO, Inc. joined Toyota in the announcement with others soon to follow.
In their press release, Toyota estimates the amount of data that flows between vehicles and the cloud could reach 10 exabytes per month by 2025. That is about 10,000 times larger than today’s volume. And that’s not all the data that vehicles generate; it’s just the amount that could be destined for the cloud. While cloud hosting companies and wireless service providers are drooling over these numbers, it is not practical, economical or even rational to architect solutions with these requirements.
The connected car is one of the best examples of an intelligent, connected asset that must make decisions in real-time based on present data and act upon these decisions in an instance. Can you imagine an airbag calling the cloud for permission to deploy? Latency from data transfer, remote compute, analysis and actuation is impossible in many operational and safety situations. It’s just not how it’s done. With more and more smart devices comprising a connected car, edge computing will be far more important than cloud computing in its operation, navigation, safety functions and more. That said, it is hard to overestimate the power of the cloud in aggregating a subset of vehicle data, correlating with traffic and weather data, not to mention a host of social, location-based and other personal data.
The future is a combination of carefully orchestrated edge and cloud computing resources.
Orchestration of data, orchestration of workflows and integrations into local and cloud services, orchestrating various security systems, etc. are the real challenges for manufacturers and OEMs in the auto industry. Interoperability, simplicity and scale are why OEMs and their suppliers alike are working together, specifically focused on how to leverage the power and possibilities of edge computing. Other market segments will soon follow. Manufacturing, healthcare, transportation, smart building, defense, construction and many more will realize they need to develop a strategic point of view on edge computing - just like they have with the cloud.