5G offers new capabilities to connected vehicles, says Gartner

Vehicle manufacturers and comms need to partner to harness data, enable remote control

5G will enable the wealth of data created by connected cars to be harnessed effectively, as well creating new possibilities for services, says Gartner.
5G will enable the wealth of data created by connected cars to be harnessed effectively, as well creating new possibilities for services, says Gartner.

The increase in efficiency between 4G and 5G and large volumes of data created by connected vehicles will create an opportunity for partnership between communications providers and autonomous vehicle (AV) OEMs, according to Gartner.

The volume of data created by AVs can be effectively harnessed if 5G is built-in to connected vehicle systems, with benefits in a number of areas of AV operations.

By 2025, AVs will upload over 1 terabyte (TB) of vehicle and sensor data per month to the cloud, up from from 30 gigabytes (GB) from advanced connected cars in 2018. Automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) will be able to extract valuable insights from this data.


"CSPs 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 at Gartner. "To seize the opportunity, CSPs 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."

Davenport said that 5G will also be able to offer AV passengers infotainment services. In future, 5G may also enable remote control of AVs by human pilots. This scenario can provide an important backup for autonomous driving systems, enabling a human to take over from an autonomous system swiftly, without requiring an actual ‘driver' onboard the vehicle itself.

"AVs periodically face a set of conditions they cannot immediately navigate, which results in the need for a vehicle-human handover," explained Davenport. "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."

The safe execution of human-led remote control of AVs 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 AV, 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 AV OEMs or operators to improve safe operation on public roads. California-based startup Phantom Auto is developing remote control solutions for AVs using cellular connectivity. Similarly, Swedish truck and bus OEM Scania has conducted tests with Ericsson of 5G remote control capabilities for its public buses.

Gartner pointed out that 5G is not ready for full deployment at present, so its benefits to AVs will not be felt full for the next five years. However, 5G will impact significantly beyond that, so communication service providers need to establish partnerships with OEMs now, to ensure that 5G is included in future plans.

"By design, AVs cannot rely on mobile networks such as 5G for core functionality, but must utilize 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 AVs and their users for all kinds of purposes, including safety, connectivity and entertainment.

"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," said Davenport.

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