Harman reveals 5G-enabled, future-ready vehicle connectivity tech

by Autocar Pro News Desk , 07 Jan 2021


Harman, the wholly-owned subsidiary of Samsung Electronics, focused on connected technologies and solutions for automotive, consumer and enterprise markets, today announced Harman Turbo Connect (TBOT), a new intelligent software agent that anticipates and mitigates vehicle connectivity discrepancies on the road.

The newest solution in the company’s telematics portfolio, Harman TBOT satisfies the current demand for high-speed connectivity with low latency, especially when used alongside 5G-enabled technologies like Harman’s Smart Conformal Antenna and full 5G and 5G-ready Telecommunications Control Units (TCU).

As consumer expectations for connectivity continue to grow, automobile manufacturers have both a responsibility and an opportunity to capture attention with incredible vehicle experiences. But limitations like latency, bandwidth and rapid technology evolutions make maintaining the pace challenging. As a result, says Harman, the in-vehicle consumer experience is at risk of lacking the needed connectivity for long-term operation. With the 5G-ready TCU and TBOT, Harman will provide its automaker customers with a nimble way to adapt to ever-evolving and growing experiences.

“A foundational element of all modern cars on the road today is, of course, connectivity,” said Vishnu Sundaram, Senior Vice-President, Harman Telematics. “By introducing TBOT into vehicles, we are able to anticipate poor or congested connectivity, thereby mitigating any streaming or latency issues before the driver or passenger even observes a problem. Music streaming can go uninterrupted, navigation functions can continue, and conference calls can be held, even in areas of poor network service.”

How 5G helps
Using the increased capabilities offered by 5G network adoption, Harman’s TBOT technology provides drivers a number of benefits, including:

Heightened user experience: It predicts and optimises the available connectivity options to match the bandwidth and latency demands of live streaming, gaming and other performance-demanding applications. This allows for an uninterrupted connectivity experience for drivers and riders, as well as saving money and energy.

Increased cost-savings: With the ability to anticipate the connectivity status miles in advance, TBOT can prepare for future more costly connectivity zones by increasing its download in free or low-price connectivity areas, driving down the cost of data consumption.

Lowered energy consumption: TBOT can also boost vehicle parameters such as battery life by optimising performance, shutting off transmission and reception during periods of no connectivity, thereby decreasing energy usage—and boosting battery life—in both electric vehicles (EVs) and traditional combustion engine vehicles, and reducing range anxiety in EVs.

Harman TBOT, acting on behalf of both the vehicle and user, resides in the TCU, roadside nodes, on the Edge, and in the cloud. Its actions are aimed at changing parameters, adapting behaviours and features of the device, and initiating communication within the ecosystem.  

Harman  say its TBOT is only one of many enhancements enabled by 5G connectivity, which will increase in-vehicle communications speed and lower latency across the spectrum. The supplier’s 5G-enabled telematics suite includes its 5G-ready TCU, which provides scalable mobile network connectivity for connected cars using either the current 4G network infrastructure or the faster 5G network of tomorrow.

Harman also offers a 5G-ready multiband conformal antenna as an optional feature for its TCUs. Harman’s conformal antenna is the right option as cars are configured with many radio services, each requiring a dedicated antenna; it can host as many as 14 antennas.

The conformal antenna is mounted below the vehicle’s body surface providing improved aesthetics and more efficient aerodynamics. Used in place of the familiar “shark fin” antenna which first appeared in the early part of the 21st century, the conformal antenna package gives vehicle designers a clean surface to design for the future. When integrated with the Harman TCU, the smart conformal antenna also improves communications performance and system reliability. It also facilitates easier factory installation.