5G to play key role for autonomous vehicle connectivity, says Gartner

by Autocar Pro News Desk , 21 Jun 2018

Representational image courtesy: Continental

5G networks may be as much as 10 times more efficient than 4G networks, with this new level of network capability, communications service providers (CSPs) can secure future market opportunities with manufacturers of autonomous vehicles in the fields of driver safety and data processing and management, according to findings by Gartner, a global research agency.

The report states autonomous vehicle systems and sensors will generate unprecedented amounts of data, which will allow automotive OEMs to extract valuable data insights, while limiting the associated provisioning costs. "Communication service providers have an opportunity to become strategic partners for OEMs by applying 5G capabilities to address AV OEM data growth," said Jonathan Davenport, senior research analyst, Gartner.

Gartner states that by 2025, AVs will upload over 1 TB (terabyte) of vehicle and sensor data per month to the cloud. This is up from 30 GB (gigabytes) from advanced connected cars in 2018. "To seize the opportunity, CSPs will need to make sure 5G is included in the design of future vehicles, in the fields of safety and connectivity, where the biggest chances lie," said Davenport. 

The faster network (5G) will also provide passengers of AVs with high-quality infotainment services. "As a result, 5G networks make CSPs an important partner for enhanced vehicle systems, be it for safety, data analytics or entertainment," added Davenport.

Remote pilots
The study finds that further opportunities for 5G technology to expand and enhance AV safety systems exist. This is fostered by regulators' examination of the safety performance of the vehicles.

Recent incidents involving autonomous vehicles have sparked negative press and underscored the importance of public safety in self-driving cars. These events have also highlighted the challenges facing the industry to develop autonomous driving systems that can guarantee a safety performance above that of human drivers.

"AVs periodically face a set of conditions they cannot immediately navigate, which results in the need for a vehicle-human handover. This handover deactivates the autonomous mode and hands over control to a human driver — but such a handover is not always possible. One potential solution for these scenarios where a handover to the human driver fails is to use remote pilots. Human pilots can be the recipient of a planned remote handover or help recover an AV that has become stuck," said Davenport.

Therein lays an opportunity to provide safe execution of human-led remote control of AVs that would require the reliability and low latency that 5G networks could provide. Once initiated, the technology would allow human technicians in remote facilities to assess live video feeds and vehicle diagnostics from the vehicle and take over driving control virtually.

As the regulatory environment for AVs continues to evolve, regulators will likely begin to require remote control capabilities from OEMs or operators to improve safe operation on public roads. A California-based startup Phantom Auto is developing remote control solutions for autonomous vehicles using cellular connectivity. Similarly, Swedish truck and bus major Scania has conducted tests with Ericsson for 5G remote control capabilities for its public buses.

Making 5G part of design process
5G is not a technology that can be fully deployed right now, and Gartner expects that it will generate only limited benefits for autonomous vehicles in the next five years. "By design, AVs cannot rely on mobile networks such as 5G for core functionality, but must utilise multiple technologies to meet performance and safety design objectives," added Davenport. "Nevertheless, 5G networks will play a crucial role in handling the massive amounts of data generated by the vehicles and their users for all kinds of purposes, including safety, connectivity and entertainment."

CSPs must act now to secure future market opportunities by ensuring that 5G is part of the AV design process. OEMs will need comprehensive end-to-end data solutions to streamline their management of data connectivity, storage and analytics. 

"In addition to offering solutions, CSPs have to build support for their 5G technologies and establish them as the de facto communication standard. This would be best achieved by supporting standards committees and working with local governments to facilitate the development of advanced use cases, such as metropolitan traffic management," concluded Davenport.


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