Machines with autopilot will wreak havoc on the environment as much as the data center

Machines with autopilot will wreak havoc on the environment as much as the data center ...

High-performance computers that offer autopilot capabilities on next-generation machines may be equally as harmful as data centers, according to researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (USA).

By 2050, autopilot platforms will be equipped with 95% of cars, that is, around a billion vehicles in the world. If the on-board computers are only charged one hour per day, their combined carbon emissions will be equal to those of the data center in 2018.

Scientists agree that their conclusions are still mostly conditional; the calculations themselves are not that difficult to execute, but there is still a significant uncertainty factor in the initial data, since we are talking about technologies that are yet to be developed. For example, autonomous platforms of the highest (4 and 5) levels are still in research, and the existing deep neural networks with indicators of computing power needed for their operation had to be taken as a basis.

Scientists have determined that the average power of the on-board computer should not exceed 1.2 kW, and that the increase in electronics' energy efficiency should be ramped up every 1.1 years, rather than every 2.8 years as it is now. So there is still time to deal with the issue of on-board computers and their carbon emissions.

Scientists highlight a particular on-board computer configuration that includes specialized hardware components and general-purpose equipment, as well as an emphasis on security issues. In addition, we will have to investigate the contribution of other components necessary for the operation of the autopilot, which were not included in this research.

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