THE IMPORTANCE OF BUILDING A ZERO DOWNTIME FUTURE

Ricardo Margalho
Feb 4, 2020 · 3 min read

Vehicles are complex equipment exposed to very diverse environments.

Even with the extensive testing they undergo today, before and during production, there are still a lot of corner cases, anomalies and faults affecting vehicles in the field.

Vehicle faults happen continuously across the globe every single day, and they naturally affect, most of all, the equipment that operates the most intensively, which are usually trucks and buses — the commercial vehicles. These are the vehicles in which a large part of the world population relies on for transport, and the ones carrying the food that supplies our supermarkets, medicines for our pharmacies, and almost everything our lives and the economy depends on.

The forced downtime faced by the transport industry poses a great operational challenge and creates a daily struggle for many people around the world working hard to avoid the effects of these unforeseen malfunctions. Whenever a vehicle is forced to stop, businesses and people are too, and costs start to build up.

With the advances in autonomous technology, in vehicle safety, and in many other areas of the automotive industry, one might think reliability would also be rapidly improving. Unfortunately, little could be further from the truth.

There has been no progress at all in terms of reducing the on-road failure rates. In fact we have been digressing. Vehicles fail more often now than they did a decade ago.

And new technology is adding up to the problem.

Even on internal combustion engine vehicles, in technologies that have been maturing for decades, we see non-decreasing fault rates. And a true challenge ahead is in new technologies and products such as, for instance, traction batteries, electric motors, and other critical components of electric vehicles. The same is true for all the new powertrain technologies and new components that are becoming more and more complex.

To cope with the increasing fault rates, vehicle testing can’t stop at the factory and test tracks anymore. Testing needs to become continuous throughout the vehicle’s lifecycle.

And the way forward starts with continuous visibility over the performance and behavior of each vehicle.

Telematics was at the beginning of this journey, enabling high volumes of vehicle data to be collected. Large investments were made on acquiring such vehicle data, and large companies already have large datasets today.

Now for this data to be explored and leveraged, automation is required. Otherwise data and human resources would need to grow linearly together, which is not feasible (nor desirable) as engineering resources are not infinite, unlike growth in data volumes.

The principle is that there is nothing humans cannot solve. Enough people looking into a problem can solve it, regardless of its complexity. Humans are great at creativity, but computers are far more efficient at repetitive tasks. Looking through multidimensional and large volumes of data collected from vehicles is one of those repetitive tasks. Mimicking the human brain to detect patterns and anomalies, together with enough computational power, enables an AI based computer program to run the analysis and give us the outputs we need instantly. And it enables us to do this at scale.

This is the field we are working on at Stratio. And we are advancing every step of the way, accelerating the creation and operationalization of new machine learning models in this field, and creating new tools and software applications to tackle the anomaly and fault detection problem.

Still, we are just scratching the surface of what can be done.

We know the problem we are trying to solve is very challenging. As it is achieving zero downtime and enabling a seamless, unstoppable mobility. We also believe the impact it can have on the future is just too big not to try.
Especially because every single step forward along the way will help people and businesses everywhere, even if just a little bit. It is that contribution that drives us, and makes us wake up and go to work every day.

We know the future will be autonomous and electric. But it will also have to be reliable.

No surprises. No disruptions. Zero downtime.

Stratio

We are fusing automotive engineering with machine learning…

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