Crowdsourcing is a very big deal these days. NASA, for example, has used it to let amateur astronomers help in the search for new planets and killer asteroids. And on a more earthbound note, Waze uses crowdsourcing to identify traffic patterns, helping commuters travel to and from work with a little less stress.
Volvo is using crowdsourcing, too -- and the payoffs could be big during future winter snowstorms.
According to a press release, Volvo has teamed up with the Swedish Transport Administration and the Norwegian Public Roads Administration on a pilot project that culls data on road friction from select Volvo vehicles. That data then gets uploaded and shared via the cloud.
In concept, the service is similar to Waze, which tracks users' speed as they motor across town, noting where they slow down and where traffic is stopped entirely. Waze then notifies other users of the potential jams and suggests taking alternate routes.
In the case of Volvo, 50 vehicles are equipped to transmit data about icy stretches of road to the cloud. When one of those vehicles detects icy pavement, it not only alerts the driver, it uses the mobile phone network to post the location of the slippery patch to Volvo's servers. Those servers, in turn, send out warnings to other vehicles that are heading toward the same area so that they can respond accordingly.
Simultaneously, Volvo's data is sent to the government agency responsible for overseeing that particular stretch of roadway. In short order, Volvo hopes, the agency's crews will be able to address the problem.
Though the service is currently limited to Volvo's test fleet, it's expected to roll out to consumer vehicles in other locales within the next couple of years.