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The future of mobile and the autonomous vehicle network

January 11, 2018

Ludovic Lassauce   

Blog contributor

The automated vehicle age is nearly upon us and it’s set to completely change our driving habits and the way we think of car ownership. What’s more, the introduction of driverless cars will have a huge impact on society, mobility and future city infrastructure, and also lead to the development of new and disruptive business models.

While large fleets of driverless cars are still at least five years away, when they arrive they will produce unprecedented amounts of data, such as car diagnostics and journey details, and will also rely on large amounts of real-time data to navigate around. This autonomous vehicle network will rely on a next-generation mobile network capable of handling these levels of data across all areas that driverless vehicles might go.

The move to 5G

The leap in quality from 4G to 5G will be huge, and much more significant than the jump from 3G to 4G was. The next-gen network technology will be able to transport larger amounts of data at high speed with low latency. While 5G will offer huge improvements to the smartphone experience, it is absolutely essential to the future of autonomous cars. As a result, the advent of driverless cars will help to drive the uptake of 5G. While the rollout of 4G was hit with barriers and delays, lessons have been learned that should result in a smoother transition for 5G technology.

Having a robust 5G mobile network in place will enable more decentralisation. But for autonomous cars to really thrive, a completely seamless mobile experience is a must so that cars can stay constantly connected while driving. The challenge will be to design IT architecture between the edge and cloud that can be deployed globally, while still allowing for localised technology to cater for different regions.

Coverage, reliability and scalability must be optimised and seamless mobile networks will require a unified management policy to ensure consistent standards. Tata Communications MOVE is global mobility platform that enables cross-border mobile connectivity and is an example of the kind of flexible connectivity that will be essential for the future of autonomous cars.

What happens next?

The introduction of 5G and the uptake of autonomous vehicles will also lead to new and unexpected technology trends. For example, Artificial Intelligence (AI) will be used to analyse the huge amount of data generated by driverless cars and the urban infrastructure that supports them, including smart road signs and traffic lights.

The insights gained could be used in a number of ways such as reducing the amount of breakdowns as well as providing more detailed real-time traffic reports and air quality information. Tata Communications’ work with Formula One™, in particular its F1® Connectivity Innovation Prize demonstrates the potential of analysing car data.

Seamless connectivity would also enable new trends such as live streaming content to cars and even lead to the development of new media formats such as TV episodes and sports highlights tailored to specific journey lengths. What’s more, we could see the introduction of in-car Augmented Reality (AR) experiences where computer graphics are projected over the passengers’ real-world view out the car windows.

Autonomous car networks and all of these potential spin-off technologies will only be made possible by borderless and robust mobile connectivity that supports a completely seamless experience.

Read one of my previous blogs on living in the automated vehicle age.