Saturday, April 15, 2017

For Self-Driving Cars, There’s Big Meaning Behind One Big Number: 4 Terabytes

As an engineer, I love solving problems and using the “language of math” – or numbers – to understand the world we live in. With meaning beyond their stated numerical value, numbers add context to stories and challenges in a way that words alone cannot. Big numbers are interesting as their meaning is often much more complex than their sheer size might suggest. With one number in particular – 4 terabytes (TB) – this is especially true, and I’m excited about the meaning behind that number for the autonomous driving industry.

First things first: Why that number? Four terabytes is the estimated amount of data that an autonomous car will generate in about an hour and a half of driving – or the amount of time a typical person spends in their car each day. By 2020, that’s also the amount of data that 3,000 individual internet users are expected to put out each and every day. It might not sound like much until you think of it in a different way: How many of us have 3,000 friends on Facebook? Now imagine trying to follow and absorb everything they all post each and every single day.