Offroad AVs - Autonomous vehicles at the edge

Autonomous vehicles are as useful off the road as on it. Future AVs must be able to operate independently, without a steady internet connection to maximize their benefits in far flung locations — the battlefield, farmers field, underground or at sea.

Zo Mendez
June 21, 2024

Autonomous vehicles (AVs) are changing industries like agriculture, construction, mining, exploration, and warehousing. Their goal is to enhance efficiency, increase scale, improve safety, and boost precision. These environments demand resilient, reliable data to enable their operation.

We envision a new approach to data management for AVs: keep critical data onboard, synchronize updates when connectivity is available, and ensure vehicles fulfill their tasks even offline. This demands databases designed specifically for edge environments, where the physical and digital worlds intersect. In fields, construction sites, and warehouses, unreliable connectivity will disrupt operations. We built Bruinen Delta, a local-first database, to keep autonomous vehicles operational and safe, regardless of network conditions. Our aim is unmatched reliability and resilience, allowing AVs to excel in an ever-changing world.

Solving AV data management challenges

AVs operate in unique environments, facing obstacles that can jeopardize their missions:

Autonomous vehicle applications

Agriculture: autonomous tractors

In a large field, autonomous tractors plant seeds and analyze soil quality. Much of the field is not covered by cellular services. If a tractor loses internet connectivity, it continues using locally stored data. When another tractor with connectivity comes within range, it acts as a data mule, syncing the offline tractor’s data with the cloud. The tractors communicate using long-range wireless protocols like LoRaWAN, allowing them to share data and maintain coordination over large distances. Local AI processes data on-site, reducing the need for a constant internet connection. Bruinen Delta's local-first approach ensures data synchronization and operational efficiency, even in connectivity-challenged environments.

Construction: autonomous machines

On a busy construction site, autonomous excavators and bulldozers maneuver with precision, guided by real-time data on a site manager's tablet. When the internet drops, the machines use locally stored data to continue their tasks. They communicate directly via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, allowing a bulldozer to adjust its path based on updates from an excavator. The site manager's tablet receives updates through this local network. Once connectivity is restored, the machines sync their data with the cloud. This enhances site efficiency and productivity by allowing uninterrupted operation.

Warehousing: autonomous robots

In a cold storage warehouse, autonomous robots manage picking and replenishment tasks. During a network outage, robots rely on their local databases to continue working and communicate via a local wireless network to avoid congestion. They might briefly lose network connectivity when entering enclosed areas of the warehouse. They store critical data locally, ensuring autonomy without cloud connectivity. AI/ML workflows at the edge analyze inventory patterns, reducing the need for data transfer. The warehouse runs smoothly and quickly adapts to changes, with robots working independently and staying operational.

The future of autonomous vehicles

Bruinen Delta abstracts away the complexity of software infrastructure, allowing hardware experts to focus on designing and improving the physical components of autonomous vehicles. With Bruinen Delta, developers can use a SQL database without worrying about the intricacies of distributed data management.

As AVs become more prevalent across industries, our reliance on them will grow significantly. Bruinen Delta ensures their reliability matches our dependence, regardless of the environment they operate in. By freeing humans from dangerous and repetitive tasks, especially those in uncontrolled environments, we enable AVs to perform safely and effectively. This is the mission we’ve set out to accomplish.

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