MAM for Autonomous Vehicles

by Dave Clack. CEO Square Box Systems.


Autonomous (self-driving) vehicles may be having a few fits and starts at the moment, but count on it – their day is rapidly approaching. With the ability to sense their environment and navigate without human input, autonomous cars are also capable of collecting an astounding quantity of data, video, and still images. The potential for captured information includes, but certainly isn’t limited to, the following:

  • The identity of the “driver” (the person initiating travel) and everyone in the car
  • Details of the start and end points
  • Braking and steering metrics
  • The travel route
  • Time and date of travel
  • The speed of travel, continuously monitored
  • Payment method (if, as it appears likely, rental will displace ownership of automobiles)

Given the propensity of the big data industry to save everything possible at the greatest level of detail, it seems likely that these vehicles saving video and audio records of everything around and inside the vehicle. All of this collected and generated data will be transmitted continuously to the cloud and reside in the hands of a small number of manufacturers and/or car-sharing companies. One of the biggest drivers, of course, is these companies’ requirement to protect themselves from liability claims. Since this data will exist in many different file types and formats, it’s a classic use case for a media asset management (MAM) repository.

Future Opportunities and Applications

It may seem a bit big-brotherish, but there are virtually endless opportunities for this data to be applied and even monetized. Some of these applications might include:

  • Speed limit enforcement. Autonomous vehicles can track their speed continuously and record whether the “driver” – the person in charge – exceeds the speed limit by even a few miles per hour and for how long. For a fee or mandated by law, the data gathered can be made available to police, government, businesses (especially insurance companies), and city transportation departments.
  • Emergency response. In the case of an accident, autonomous vehicles can share data directly with law enforcement in real time, which can trigger them to immediately dispatch their autonomous police vehicles, ambulances, and (driverless?) tow trucks.
  • Tracking bad drivers. Even in conventional, human-driven vehicles, data analytics by the car may reveal a pattern of poor driving. This data can be automatically shared with your automobile insurance company, which can increase your premium payment on the spot. The data might even be used to revoke your license after a certain number of infractions, removing another potential problem driver from the roads or consigning you to a safer autonomous vehicle. Ironically, your only hope might be the department of motor vehicles, which has an institutional will to live, and the insurance companies, which of course have a vested interest in keeping you on the road to preserve their income.
  • Public safety. In their quest to secure the streets and protect the country, law enforcement and national security agencies might be able to use the data to track where potential criminals and terrorists are going and with whom they are associating.
  • Public works. What streets are used most and where is maintenance likely to be needed next? By analyzing street-use data, transportation departments at all levels can predict which streets need repaving or which intersections have the most accidents to help prioritize road safety improvements.
  • Traffic management. Where is traffic slowing? Information about traffic patterns can be coordinated with traffic managers to adjust the timing of signals (if still needed), vehicle routing, and other factors to maximize traffic flow.
  • Entertainment and media. Entertainment options aren’t just for back-seat passengers any more. Proponents of autonomous vehicles point to the enormous amount of time drivers spend behind the wheel that could be put to productive use if they were freed from the concentrated act of driving. With no more need to attend to the exterior world, the occupants of autonomous vehicles — as is already the case in airplanes – can become a captive audience for entertainment offerings. The autonomous vehicle industry, and not to mention the advertising industry, stand to benefit significantly since the identities of the passengers will be known and validated. To a lesser extent, we could see the education and office productivity industries targeting travelers with time on their hands.

For better or worse, the brave new world of driverless vehicles is almost here, and they’ll change a lot more than just our driving habits. The expected tremendous output of high-value big data in all forms and formats will have to be stored, accessed, managed, and archived carefully. With CatDV, Square Box is on it.