IoT & Embedded Technology Blog

From the Big Dig to Big Data – Can M2M Cure Road Rage?

On my way into the airport today to attend Oracle OpenWorld (running late as usual), I found myself once again grateful for the ways technology has changed our lives and, more specifically, my commute. In this case, I cruised past a long line of cars waiting to pay tolls at exit 14 on the Mass Pike. Empowered by the EZ-Pass sitting on my dash, I skated through the tolls and was one step closer to Logan Airport. Although I find it hard to believe that there are still people who opt to pay cash for their tolls, I gladly accept the opportunity to pass them. But aside from this fleeting competitive advantage (and, yes, driving around Boston is highly competitive) that will eventually fade away as more drivers FINALLY see the light, I am left wondering how our infrastructure can adapt to finally make all of our commutes – and lives – just a little bit easier.

Eisenhower’s interstates are outdated, crumbling, and over capacity. While the quality of the drivers around Boston surely makes all of these issues worse and less tolerable, the number of cars on the road is at the heart of the problem. Isn’t it?

Well, a recent article on IEEE suggests otherwise, stating that traffic could be greatly reduced if our cars were just a little bit (OK, a lot) smarter. Just last week, California, following the highly publicized launch of Google Drive in Nevada, endorsed the future legality of self-driven cars on its roads. The widespread deployment of these autonomous automobiles holds the key to cracking the congestion code – not just for its ability to take control away from bad drivers, but also because the real-time responsiveness of these intelligent systems. Theoretically, via M2M communication and swarm computing, these cars would be able to travel much closer to each other at high speeds, thus potentially all but eliminating the stop-and-go traffic to which we’ve all grown accustomed.

Widespread deployment and network effect timelines aside, this explosion in M2M connectivity requirements would clearly present a boon to embedded hardware and processor vendors. However, such a commitment to more intelligent systems from not only the tech sector, but also our government is a critical step to our ability to achieve this vision of greater efficiency. So while we’re all waiting for this connected car r/evolution, where should ‘intelligent system’ solution vendors look for more immediate payouts?

Our research series, M2M Communications – Connecting Next Generation Systems, will provide that answer and provide both suppliers and OEMs insight into what best-in-class companies are doing, using, and thinking. Please let us know if you have any specific questions that you would like us address as part of a future post or within the research program in general.