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3G cellular connectivity was largely sunset by carriers last year, paving the road to 4G. However, experts estimate that 4G could see a sunset sometime between 2030 and 2035. While this deadline may seem like a far way off, it looms large for the automotive industry, which relies on these technologies to fuel cellular IoT solutions in vehicles. Given the long design and development cycles for automobiles, manufacturers must plan for 5G connectivity sooner rather than later.
Earlier this month, Aeris co-founder and chief evangelist, Syed “Z” Hosain recently gave a presentation focused on the automotive industry and 5G at the IEEE Workshop on Leveraging 5G for Vertical Industries. His session covered what 5G connectivity can do for car manufacturers, and how this technology can improve – and complicate – the automotive landscape.
Z walked through the technological innovations in automobiles that make cellular connectivity a vital part of today’s automotive sector. In particular, 5G connectivity enables cellular IoT in vehicles, enhancing safety, operations, and maintenance.
“Today, there are many electrical systems in cars that control and monitor everything,” Z said, noting that the vehicle capabilities that we rely on (for example, automatic braking capabilities and stability control systems) use ever-increasing numbers of sensors and electronics in every car. However, these systems in modern cars are very complex, and it is no longer easy to diagnose problems.
Cars need systems that can also contain self-diagnosis capabilities. This requirement led to the implementation of 2G, 3G, and eventually 4G cellular connectivity, in the automotive industry for Connected Car functions. It will eventually propel the industry to embrace 5G as well.
Unfortunately, there is a disconnect between automotive design and production cycles and cellular connectivity sunset cycles. In not too many years, vehicles connected with 4G today will become obsolete. This is an issue, especially considering the fact that automobiles take between three and four years to develop and go into manufacturing and sales to consumers. Z also pointed out that owners are keeping their cars for longer periods due to rising costs.
According to Z, 5G connectivity offers the industry an enormous amount of utility. For example, as the systems in cars become more complicated and generate greater volumes of data, the industry needs connectivity options that support larger volumes of data. Modern vehicles can now receive remote software updates and 4G connectivity will not be capable of handling the amount of data that needs to be transferred in the future. Fortunately, auto manufacturers see the writing on the wall and are in the process of deploying vehicles with 5G connectivity.
5G cellular connectivity is also an important steppingstone to fully autonomous vehicles, according to Z. The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) designates five levels of vehicle autonomy above Level 0 (no automation). While SAE Level 5 – where a passenger has literally no control over a vehicle – is a long way off, Z indicated that 5G is an important step in reaching that point with the support data needed – for example, with rapid transmission of high-definition accurate map information.
One of the main ways 5G will facilitate autonomous innovation is by deploying C-V2X (cellular vehicle-to-everything) capabilities in vehicles for real-time communication. In its simplest terms, C-V2X is when connectivity enables vehicles to communicate with infrastructure endpoints (like traffic lights and road sensors), vehicles, and even pedestrians. Z noted there are already significant plans for deployments of C-V2X use cases that have been prototyped, with many more coming in the future.
According to the 5G Automotive Association (5GAA), safety automated driving capabilities could arrive as soon as 2025, while basic safety for traffic efficiency capabilities is already available. In the future, 5G connectivity can also pave the way for more complex connected vehicle capabilities that will improve transportation safety and efficiency.
“I am excited to see how the automotive industry embraces 5G,” Z said. ”There are so many useful capabilities 5G can facilitate that will improve vehicle operations, maintenance, and safety.”
To learn how Aeris can improve your connected vehicle program and jumpstart innovation, connect with one of our automotive experts.