One of the easiest ways to understand ad hoc networks is through the “string-phone” analogy. It’s what most kids have played with using two cups connected with a small or large length of string. Without realizing it, this little game created our very own private networks that we used for sharing secrets and gossip. Ad hoc networks are somewhat similar. They form temporary networks between two or more wireless devices anywhere without the need for a fixed infrastructure to control the way data packets are routed.
Why are these important? For one, this can be used in very remote terrain for easy communication or to create safer wireless networks for small durations to exchange data quickly without being intercepted.
One of the categories of ad hoc networks is known as Vehicular Ad hoc Networks or simply, VANETs. Today, let us take a look at this little-known technology that is behind connected and autonomous vehicles!
VANETs are a subset of ad hoc networks where wireless devices are vehicles. These vehicles are equipped with onboard units (OBUs) that act as communication devices that allow Dedicated Short-Range Communications (DSRC) messages to be transmitted between vehicles that are either stationary or mobile. But why do vehicles have to communicate? We live in a digitally connected world where information is supreme. If there are diversions on a route or if there has been an accident, that information is passed along to the other vehicles. Connected vehicles can also share information like weather conditions, driver-related information, and entertainment media, and may also be used by the military to exchange critical information. Wireless networking, which in this case are VANETs, will enable future technologies including intelligent transportation systems and smart vehicles.
Connected and autonomous vehicles are designed to minimize human interactions while a vehicle is on the road. These vehicles are capable of making intelligent decisions in terms of selecting the most optimal route to a particular destination, driving the vehicle, and deciding what information can be classified as highly important from a host of other messages. Connected vehicles can connect with other vehicles on the road without a fixed infrastructure for data exchange, making it an application of VANETs.
A lot of companies have been developing autonomous vehicles over the years. Although we have not developed fully autonomous vehicles for public usage yet (which is level 5 on the scale of automated driving), developers have been adding safety features and self-driving capabilities in an incremental manner.
Some of the most popular jobs related to CAV technology for those interested in studying or researching VANETs are listed below.
- Research Analyst
- Automotive Connectivity Frameworks Development Engineer
- Technical Program Manager
- CAV Perception and Prototyping Engineer
- Research Engineer – CAV Data Recording
- Software Simulation Engineer
- Mapping and Localization Engineer
- Network Engineer
- Computer Scientist
- UI/UX Developer
Some of the most popular organizations that work on CAV tech are Waymo (formerly Google self-driving car project), Pony.ai, Zoox, Aptiv, Tesla, Amazon, Cisco, Bosch, Jaguar, Volvo, Daimler, Audi, and BMW.
Cisco, a major networking organization, has been developing the underlying infrastructure across the data layer that would enable communication between autonomous vehicles. Amazon has been working towards developing autonomous vehicles that are capable of delivering packages. Aptiv completed over 100,000 self-driving rides and has been working on developing robot taxi fleets! Audi is known for being the first company to deploy hands-free driving in passenger cars and one of its models has even been approved for street driving in Europe. Bosch has been aggressively testing self-driving taxi services in the US and has even invested in a facility that will produce semiconductors that can be used in autonomous vehicles and other intelligent devices.