The Internet of Things is made up of tens of billions of smart devices, like cameras, sensors and mobile devices, all capable of wirelessly communicating with each other and with us. About five billion new things are getting connected on a daily basis. Connected transportation vehicles is the fastest growing category for “smart, connected products”, after handheld devices. Whether it is self-diagnosing engine problems or acting autonomously and optimally, IoT is impacting transportation and enabling completely new possibilities.
Hitachi has long been a major player in the Transportation segment. With revenues of about $9B per year, Hitachi is a prominent Tier 1 supplier to the automotive industry. Hitachi also makes trains, which includes the rolling stock, components, software systems, and more. Hitachi is an R&D powerhouse in transportation as well: in our automotive research labs, Hitachi builds and tests ADAS systems (Advanced Driver Automation Systems), amongst many other cutting-edge technologies. ADAS is the backbone of self-driving cars of the near future.
Like in other industries such as manufacturing, energy and healthcare, Hitachi offers IoT solutions in transportation that provide multiple benefits. Here are five:
1. Finding new revenue
2. Increasing safety
3. Getting important, actionable information
4. Achieving higher efficiencies
5. Delivering new experiences
This article will describe the benefits of IoT technology from Hitachi in these areas. For context, let’s take a quick look at Hitachi’s Automotive Systems Division.
Hitachi Automotive Systems
Headquartered in Ibaraki, Japan, Hitachi Automotive Systems develops, manufactures, sells and services transportation related components, industrial machines and systems. It has 40,100 employees in 62 companies at 133 sites throughout Europe, Asia, Japan and the Americas. Specifically, Hitachi Automotive Systems makes:
a. Engine Powertrain Systems
- Control Systems
- Exhaust, Fuel and Ignition Systems
- Engine components and subsystems
b. Electric Powertrain Systems
- Hybrid and Electric Vehicle (EV) Systems
c. Integrated Vehicle Control Systems
- Autonomous Driving Systems
- 360 Degree Sensing Systems
- Drive Power Transmission, Suspension, Braking and Steering Systems
Hitachi actively supplies several components to the world’s top automotive OEMs. We have received five consecutive annual “Supplier Quality Excellence” awards from GM in recognition of our products, with motors, inverters and Lithium-ion battery packs leading our supply to Chevrolet Bolt, Malibu, Saturn Vue and Buick LaCrosse cars. And we have announced plans with Honda to build electric motor drivetrains in China.
As more components in automobiles become sensor-enabled, the availability of data from many parts of an automobile has exploded. That, per se, isn’t new: diagnostic data can already be read out by a mechanic using a handheld device. But there is tremendous value in having this data available wirelessly and in real-time, as opposed to at maintenance intervals or at fault occurrence.
Traditionally, that data is moved to a computer in the garage or sent to the cloud for analysis, where the mechanic can check against known issues or manufacturers’ recommendations on how and when to fix to what. But we are getting to a stage where this slow, manual process cannot be tolerated and the data needs to be analyzed immediately at “the edge”, in the automobile itself. For example, a self-driving “Connected Automobile” needs to know immediately if that small object approaching the curb is a suitcase that has rolled away or a child. It is edge-enabled data analytics that allows immediate intelligent remedies, recommendations, and actions.
Hitachi’s Leadership in Connected Automobiles
Hitachi is a leader in Advanced Driver Automation Systems. Hitachi has a self-driving capable Infiniti Q70, fully equipped with multiple sensors, LiDAR, cameras and computing power, that drives itself. It is owned and operated by Hitachi R&D labs near Detroit, MI. It was displayed at the NEXT 20173 show in Las Vegas this year. (The car was featured in an interview conducted by an analyst firm, featuring Hitachi Vantara’s Chief Marketing Officer, Asim Zaheer – check out the video here!)
This highly advanced Connected Car demo’d several IoT and data analytics features:
1. Autonomous Mobility: registered to drive in the state of Michigan, this car can drive itself on pre-designated routes. It uses stereo cameras, LiDAR and sensors to create a 360-degree vision around it. It then uses powerful onboard computers and engine control units to steer its way along a route.
2. Vehicle Occupant Health and Safety Analytics: Using data analytics and AI, this demo showcased healthcare analytics and its impact on driving. Using cameras and medical sensors, such as respiration sensors at chest level in the seatbelt, thumbprint sensors on the steering wheel and dashboard cameras aimed at the driver, the vehicle can measure, track, analyze and make critical decisions with regards to occupant safety and security. It can tell when the driver has alcohol in his/her bloodstream, and whether the driver is agitated, angry or sleepy, all key triggers for distracted driving.
3. Connected Powertrain for Fuel Economy with Autonomous Cars: Implementing AI and Deep Learning, this demo showed how predictive controls for automotive powertrain enables vehicles (especially autonomous vehicles) to operate at optimized engine and powertrain conditions that improve fuel economy based on actual and forecasted vehicle performance.
A Neural Network is fed with input parameters such as sensor information, weather, traffic and GPS data which then calculates and outputs an estimated Drive Cycle. Using supervisory controls, it analyzes and creates an optimized drive cycle1, plotting Actual vs. Predicted speed over time. All this leads to emission reductions, gas savings and helps deliver a comfortable ride, helping reduce an automotive OEM’s CAFÉ (Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency2) rankings.
4. Vehicle Failure Prediction and Maintenance: This demo showed an innovative IoT approach that analyzed data from smart components in the vehicle to predict failure of parts, thereby reducing unexpected maintenance and warranty costs.
5. Ride Comfort Control using AI: With AI and Machine Learning along with real time interaction with infrastructure, this demo showcased how to improve the ride and comfort of a vehicle based on driver preference (behavior), road conditions, and traffic and vehicle dynamics.
6. Fleet Management using big data analytics: Based on a commercial company’s trucking fleet that we’re engaged with, this showcase demonstrated features such as Asset Registration, Fleet Status, Predictive Maintenance, Vehicle Profile, Health and Location, Alerting, Operational Workflow Integration and an interactive fleet analysis4.
Clearly, Hitachi is extremely well positioned to deliver powerful AI-powered, IoT-enabled solutions for optimizing transportation, based on deep domain knowledge. Let’s tie in the main benefits of IoT in Smart Transportation with Hitachi’s prowess:
1. Finding new revenue
Older assets that aren’t internet-connected can be retrofitted, which can help them send and share data. As we showed with our self-driving sedan and Fleet Management big-data analytics solution, implementing IoT doesn’t necessitate equipment with built-in internet connectivity. Fleet Management and onboard diagnostics systems are actively used by transport operators, insurance companies, fleet owners and consumers to get realtime updates on vehicle location, health, driver and vehicle status, critical engine parameters, remaining useful life or predicted maintenance insights, and more.
A big challenge in transporting our Infiniti to Las Vegas for the NEXT 2017 show was the transport operator not being able to commit a pickup and drop off time with any accuracy: he lacked reliable advance visibility on which driver would be best located with what type of carrier! Being able to better manage his fleet with real-time driver and vehicle information would lead to higher efficiencies and more profits for that transport operator.
2. Increasing safety
Data from cameras and sensors can help the car detect the driver as he or she approaches the car, precluding the need for even a car key: the car simply won’t unlock for an unauthorized person. Cameras detect whether the driver is in a capable state to drive. GPS and other services can control the areas the car can be operated in. The days of breaking into a car, hotwiring the ignition wires and driving off across the country are soon going to become as ancient as black and white movies!
3. Getting important, actionable information
IoT devices connect and send data from sensors in engines, suspensions, tires, cameras, etc. This can be streamed to a cloud, or it can be analyzed “at the edge” itself when necessary. In either case, it’s important information that can lead to actions that help improve safety, efficiency, and lower costs. And as discussed already, IoT enables actionable fleet data with real time location, driver, vehicle, routes, traffic and weather information, live, providing critical information that leads to better operational efficiencies.
4. Higher efficiencies
IoT sensors help build smarter, more efficient powertrains, as we’ve demonstrated. They also help perform predictive maintenance, at lower costs and optimal frequency, reducing unnecessary repair costs. Your car can tell you where the nearest tire repair shop is when it’s pressure is running low or changes abruptly. They help to reduce emissions and save fuel. They help deliver useful, immediate data that can help reduce costs and save money by enabling faster responses to opportunities.
5. Delivering new experiences
New efficiencies due to connectivity and management of unattainable data leads to new experiences and increase comfort. For example, through the use of smarter use of IoT sensors in our suspension systems, the car can predict and detect upcoming road gradients and curves. In real time, it adjusts the stiffness of individual suspensions that adjust on the fly to reduce body roll, leading to a more comfortable drive.
Fleet vehicles are essentially becoming computers with wheels, and ADAS-equipped vehicles are, essentially, AI-powered, edge-computing robots. Advances in computing and communication technologies at rapidly lowering costs means that all vehicles will soon be talking with each other, adjusting among themselves to maintain optimum drive cycles, routes and sharing insights. This will lead to incredible new innovations, from vehicles that talk to other appliances, driving themselves to and from required destinations and service centers, to eventually precluding ever needing a driver’s license.
But data without context or intelligence is simply bad data. It needs to offer meaningful information, and information must deliver insights for better outcomes. IoT provides a channel – a means to get to key analytics, which, backed by AI and deep industry experience are what’s enabling the transformation in transportation.
Hitachi’s experience building the machines that power the industrial sector combined with their experience building IT systems to deliver deep industry knowledge sets it apart. With a full stack IoT platform available for data blending, powerful machine learning with AI and industry expertise, Lumada’s analytics capabilities are the key providing digital transformative impact in the Transportation industry today. The era of Smart Transportation is upon us, and it’s powered by the internet of things. Follow us at Hitachi Vantara as we lead the way.
- Driving Cycle: http://www.car-engineer.com/the-different-driving-cycles/
- CAFÉ: https://www.nhtsa.gov/laws-regulations/corporate-average-fuel-economy
- Hitachi NEXT 2017: http://www.hitachinext.com/
- Fleet management analytics: http://www.pentaho.com/big-data-use-cases/minimize-unscheduled-downtime