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From idea to implementation

Big Data in Mobility

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Patrick Blume of Mercedes-Benz Group AG explains how anonymized vehicle-generated data helps address traffic challenges.

Graphic with symbols of the three areas for which Mercedes-Benz uses the vehicle data

Critical traffic situations, icy roads and potholes - more safety through intelligent use of data © Mercedes-Benz Group AG

Where do potholes occur more frequently and where is a traffic sign illegible? When does traffic flow smoothly in the city and when does it come to a standstill? Where is there black ice and the gritting service has to go out? The public sector hopes to find answers to such questions on the basis of anonymized vehicle-generated data, which will be made available to road users and decision-makers via intelligent systems in order to optimize traffic flow, increase safety and protect the environment. Anonymized vehicle-generated data as the key to more sustainable, climate-friendly and at the same time safe traffic in the future - goals to which Mercedes-Benz is also committed. Today, Mercedes-Benz customers can already use their anonymized data to help improve mobility and infrastructure offerings. The prerequisite for this is that the customer gives separate consent in each case. Of course, the customer can also revoke this consent at any time, for example via the Mercedes me app.

The challenges in handling this data are diverse and demanding - technically, organizationally, and legally. However, customers and partners can rest assured that data protection in Mercedes-Benz vehicles is a high priority. After all, the secure and responsible handling of data is the basis for the acceptance of connected driving. January 2020, Breda. Netherlands: Kick-off of the Road Monitor project, which will run for two years and cover all provinces of the Netherlands with a road network of more than 130,000 km. The goal is the partnership-based development of high-quality and easy-to-use information based on Mercedes-Benz vehicle data in the areas of: Winter Management, Road Condition Analysis and Road Safety. The focus is always on the end user. How can the data and the information derived from it be integrated into the daily work of the user in order to provide assistance in decision-making?

It is based on anonymized data from the Mercedes me connect service Car-to-X Communication and other data collected with the express consent of customers for the purpose of optimizing mobility and infrastructure in the field. Data from systems such as radar, ultrasonic sensor and chassis from intelligent, networked Mercedes- Benz vehicles are included.

Optimal use of the available data and knowledge promotes the efficiency and thus the sustainability of traffic systems throughout the road network. Anonymized. Vehicle data from Mercedes-Benz provide the valuable basis for developing digital solutions to challenges in road traffic.

Critical traffic situations, icy roads and potholes - more safety through intelligent use of data

In the first of the program's three areas, road safety, Mercedes-Benz has played a leading role for decades with its passive and active safety systems. Up to 45 different state-of-the-art driver assistance systems - so-called "Advanced Driver Assistance Systems": Based on anonymized information, the Mercedes-Benz road-safety algorithm calculates a risk model and indicates particularly dangerous spots on the roads. The road-safety hotspots provide detailed information such as a description of the situation, distribution over times of day of the interventions and comparison of the locations with historical accidents. The respective assistance system also allows a conclusion to be drawn as to whether the hotspot is of relevance to pedestrians or cyclists, for example. This information helps to gain insights into critical situations in traffic that cannot be captured with conventional data. They proactively help to avoid accidents.

In the area of winter management, Mercedes-Benz combines anonymized car-to-x data with information from external sources - for example, from weather stations operated by road authorities. This enables unfavorable road conditions to be detected in real time. If the sensors for ESP® or ABS detect low grip on the road, for example, the data including the GPS position is sent to the Mercedes-Benz cloud via the mobile network and anonymized there. After processing, the information can then be displayed in digital maps and dashboards in the road maintenance departments. In this way, they enable rapid and effective deployment of the necessary resources. This proven early detection of risks improves road safety and can help to protect the environment through the targeted and needs-based use of gritting materials.

In road condition analysis, Mercedes-Benz enables predictive maintenance and repair of road infrastructure, setting new standards. As part of the Road Monitor program, for example, damage to the road infrastructure is determined on the basis of vehicle data such as steering angle and wheel speed. Early detection of potholes and other surface damage increases the efficiency of maintenance work and improves safety. In the case of potholes or bumps, the data can be used to identify not only where the damage exists, but also how severe it is and how it is developing. This information is enormously valuable to authorities when planning and prioritizing resources for maintenance.

Data protection thanks to anonymized data - The customer decides about his data

Responsible handling and protection of data is a high priority at Mercedes-Benz. In such data-based mobility initiatives of the company, including the Road Monitor program in the Netherlands, the data is anonymized, which means that data cannot be traced back to individual vehicles. Furthermore, they can only be transmitted and used if there is consent from the vehicle owner.

About the person

Patrick Blume is Head of the Urban Mobility Product Portfolio at Mercedes-Benz Group AG. Together with his team, he is responsible for all data and vehicle products in the context of Urban Mobility. The Urban Mobility Solutions department at Mercedes-Benz Group AG was created to make cities more livable with safe, sustainable, efficient and barrier-free mobility products.


Patrick Blume