The weather. It’s probably one of the first things we check in the morning to plan our strategy for the day. On the whole, forecaster predictions tend to be very accurate. Except when they’re not, and that really ticks us off.
There’s a reason forecasters get it wrong sometimes—and it isn’t entirely their fault. They get their information from fixed-location weather stations. With this data, they predict conditions for whole areas. But, the weather is a slippery customer and can vary over sub-mile scales. While it’s overcast and rainy in one part of town, it can be beautifully sunny in another. If you don’t believe me, come visit my hometown of Los Angeles and witness it for yourself.
As we’ve become a more connected society with our smart devices, we expect accurate information on demand. And, not receiving it, especially when it’s completely wrong, is beyond frustrating. Not only would knowing the accurate weather be more convenient, it would make driving a lot safer, especially for autonomous cars making life and death decisions. Wouldn’t it be great if someone could figure out this problem?
Crunching More Data
Global Weather Corporation came up with a solution and you are part of it. At least your car is. The company received a patent to use vehicle sensors to improve weather forecasts. Here’s how it works: Your car is or will be equipped with vehicle sensors, which are continually gathering and processing data. These sensors can grab weather observations in real time and pass them on through the car’s cellular connection. Combined with data from fixed-location weather stations operated by institutions and enthusiasts, forecasters can gather comprehensive information in a localized area. With a more complete picture, weather predictions and driving conditions will be more accurate.
Bill Gail, Global Weather Corporation CTO and lead inventor on the patent, sums it up pretty well: “Many of the most demanding new weather use cases, such as driving decisions made by autonomous vehicle systems, require ever-better forecast quality and specificity. The novel methods addressed in this patent make that possible.”
The possibility for companies to continually gather more and more information from us definitely has its benefits. For example, car cameras could be networked too, to give drivers or autonomous cars a clear picture of hazards and anticipate corrections. But how far is too far in gathering our information, and at what point does it threaten to invade our privacy? I’d love to hear your thoughts.