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Amazon today announced the new Amazon Web Services (AWS) IoT TwinMaker, a service designed to make it easier for developers to create digital twins of real-time systems like buildings, factories, industrial equipment, and product lines. Alongside this, the company debuted AWS IoT FleetWise, an offering that makes it ostensibly easier and more cost-effective for automakers to collect, transform, and transfer vehicle data in the cloud in near-real-time.
“Digital twin” approaches to simulation have gained currency in other domains. For instance, London-based SenSat helps clients in construction, mining, energy, and other industries create models of locations for projects they’re working on. GE offers technology that allows companies to model digital twins of actual machines and closely track performance. And Microsoft provides Azure Digital Twins and Project Bonsai, which model the relationships and interactions between people, places, and devices in simulated environments.
With IoT TwinMaker, Amazon says that customers can leverage prebuilt connectors to data sources like equipment, sensors, video feeds, and business applications to automatically build knowledge graphs and 3D visualizations. IoT TwinMaker supplies dashboards to help visualize operational states and updates in real time, mapping out the relationships between data sources.
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To help developers create web-based apps for end-users, the IoT TwinMaker comes with a plugin for Amazon Managed Grafana, Amazon’s fully managed service for the visualization platform from Grafana Labs. Grafana’s apps can enable users to observe and interact with digital twins created using IoT TwinMaker.
As for IoT FleetWise, it enables AWS customers to collect and standardize data across fleets of upwards of millions of vehicles. IoT FleetWise can apply intelligent filtering to extract only what’s needed from connected vehicles to reduce the volume of data being transferred. Moreover, it features tools that allow automakers to perform remote diagnostics, analyze fleet health, prevent safety issues, and improve autonomous driving systems.
As Amazon explains in a press release: “Automakers start in the AWS management console by defining and modeling vehicle attributes (e.g., a two-door coupe) and the sensors associated with the car’s model, trim, and options (e.g., engine temperature, front-impact warning, etc.) for individual vehicle types or multiple vehicle types across their entire fleet. After vehicle modeling, automakers install the IoT FleetWise application on the vehicle gateway (an in-vehicle communications hub that monitors and collects data), so it can read, decode, and transmit information to and from AWS.”
“The cloud is fundamentally changing [the automobile] industry, including how vehicles are designed and manufactured, the features they offer, how we drive,” AWS CEO Adam Selipsky said onstage at Amazon’s re:Invent 2021 conference. “[Automakers] are designing vehicles that are fused with software connected by sensors, and systems generating on [enormous] amounts of data.”
Vehicle telematics — a method of monitoring and harvesting data from any moving asset, including cars and trucks — could be a boon for automakers in the coming years, not to mention service providers like Amazon. Monetizing onboard services could create $1.5 trillion, or 30% more, in additional revenue potential by 2030, according to McKinsey. One analysis found that even during the height of the pandemic, the demand for fleet management and telematics software has continued to grow at a rate of 10.6% and 9.9%, respectively.
As Sudip Saha noted in Automotive World, the current health crisis has proven to be an opportunity to showcase the benefits of effective fleet management systems — especially in the context of the ecommerce boom. Businesses that delivered better when contactless and remote tracking of consignments was the need of the hour have largely fared better than their competitors.
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