In recent years, the automotive industry, along with the cellular network industry, have been making a collaborative effort to revolutionize their two respective fields. With the introduction of the 5th generation of mobile networks, better known as 5G, this dream is more attainable than ever before.
5G is guaranteeing higher capacity, better coverage, lower latency, and of course blazing data speeds. It’s aiming to get millions of vehicles up and running with cellular networks. This enables it to connect to not only the drive itself, but everything and everyone around it. Gathering information from other cars, pedestrians, traffic lights and even the road along the way.
5G and The Internet of Things (IoT)
In order for this to be feasible in the first place, 5G had to be specifically developed to work in conjunction with the Internet of Things or IoT.
The Internet of things is a system of a series of sensors that pick up information and then relay it over to processing nodes or ‘gateways’, which then process said information. This in turn will be used by these smart devices.
This system of interconnected electronic devices or ‘things’ is responsible for simple products from automatic doors, self functioning lights, coffee makers, sound systems, etc., to even cars and other vehicles that can transfer data through the internet, which is controlled over a mobile or desktop application. The process heavily relies on the effective communication between the sensors and the proper processing of information by the nodes.
New Concepts and Terminology
In order to understand what exactly is 5Gs role in the automotive industry, let’s get familiar with some new concepts and terminology.
The implementation of 5G is supposed to facilitate autonomous driving by enabling the vehicle to interact with its environment. Under the guidance of the 5G Automotive Association, which is a consortium of developers of 5G technology, specifically in the automotive field, the following ways of constant communication must be maintained.
● Vehicle-2-Everything (V2X) Communication: This is the virtual environment that developers wish to establish with the help of 5G’s increased reliability, availability and of course, lower latency. All in all, they guarantee safety-sensitive applications that hope to keep the vehicles up to date with their surroundings at real time speeds.
● Vehicle-2-Vehicle (V2V) Communication: Due to vehicles being connected to one and other through the IoT, your car will be aware of other cars in its immediate surrounding. This is possible as the vehicles will be able to share relevant status data directly to each other. Therefore if a car ahead of you were to suddenly swerve or lose control due to brake failure, your car is informed immediately and can respond before you’re even aware of it.
● Vehicle-2-Infrastructure (V2I) Communication: Through the Iot accompanied by the speeds of 5G, other roadway infrastructure can be equipped with the same intelligence as your car. This will allow a car to automatically share data with infrastructure along the way. Therefore, a traffic light could signal directly to a car that it is about to turn red. The car can then prepare to adjust its speed accordingly.
● Vehicle-2-Network (V2N) communication: Similarly networks can keep in constant touch with each to provide for seamless transfer of information.
● Vehicle-2-pedestrian (V2P) communication: 5G phones are now available to the general public, this means that normal pedestrians can now be logged into this system along with these other devices. A little intimidating for sure, but just imagine, this cell phone could alert a car that a distracted pedestrian is on a crosswalk and potentially save a life.
● Cellular Vehicle-2-Everything (C-V2X): This application is now being adopted by local city governments, cellular providers, chipset suppliers as well as roadside units (RSU). Think of it like the oil that allows the automotive industry to function on the IoT, now featuring 5G.
See also: What Does 5G Mean For IOT?
Issues That Could Arise
The main issue is that such scenarios are in development, but haven’t been fully implemented everywhere. It will require a lot of infrastructural changes. It will also only be possible if everyone owns 5G products that can support such features. This is a similar issue that can be seen with 4G phones and the transition to 5G ones.
The fifth generation of mobile networks is characterized by higher frequencies and shorter wavelengths, though this advancement will allow for quicker and increased connectivity. It can also be easily obstructed and fades quickly when not in close proximity to the source.
Therefore, the whole point of the IOT of things and its collaboration with the automotive industry is to allow us to control more devices remotely. Then this challenge of connectivity, especially when it comes to land area coverage and the associated costs, is a big one.
Many regions of the globe still experience little or no signal from today’s mobile networks, and with 5Gs network range shorter than that of today’s 4G, the cars would need to be able to fall-back safely to their on-board computer. Or in some cases, even manual driving.
An issue which can be simply tackled with increased connectivity towers, but could still pose an issue to people wanting to experience the fifth generation outside the big cities where it’s the fastest.
See also: Will 5G work on 4G Phones?