‘5G is essential to autonomous car development’
The development of 5G will be a cornerstone in the evolution of connected cars, from safety to shared mobility and autonomous driving. It will allow huge data transmission to the car from the infrastructure or another car. Many car manufacturers are now developing their own systems but Seat is the first European company to carry out real-life tests.
Just as the Mobile World Congress closes its doors in Barcelona, the Geneva Motor Show begins. Both shows put the accent on connectivity, with the latter specifying in mobility. “Five years ago, we were the first manufacturer in Barcelona. Some joined us but we have the lead”, declares Seat’s communication manager, Christian Stein.
“The industry is working on sensors, radars, etc. However, connectivity is a very important technology that will have to be incorporated in the cars”, explains Maxime Flament, CTO at 5GAA. The association has helped standardized communication between cars and infrastructure.
“We will arrive at the autonomous car, but step by step. It starts with connecting cars to the network and then to each other”, adds the CTO. Competitor Qualcomm presented its C-V2X technology. It allows vehicles to communicate in ‘peer to peer’, without the need for infrastructure.
Seeing further for safety
Both companies want to connect cars to the network or to each other for safety reasons. In the case of two connected cars crossing each other’s paths, they will be able to transmit their position, foresee the collision and avoid it. In the same way, when a car brakes to a halt on a road, the connected car following it will already know why and reduce speed or brake accordingly.
“An autonomous car is safer, but it will not take the decision to go through once the other car ‘saw’ it. 5G will change that”, details Maged Zakin, Qualcomm product marketing and technology manager. The technology will also help the flow of cars in low visibility situations.
Seat and Xmoda, the brand’s subsidiary for 5G technology, have conducted a pilot experience in partnership with Telefónica in the city of Segovia, Spain. The car was connected to the infrastructure network and received information about pedestrians crossing the road.
“The car, with all its sensors, sees what’s going on around it. But it’s not capable to anticipate what is happening in two kilometres or around the corner behind the building”, explains Leyre Olavarrìa, manager of connected cars at Seat. “We are the first European brand to carry out real-life tests of 5G. It’s a way to be ready for the future when the network is here”, she adds.
Big data transmission
Some may ask why manufacturers are waiting for the development of the 5G network to connect cars when our phones are already connected to LTE, or 4G. “You could use LTE when we’re only talking about 1% or 10% of the fleet. However, when we want to connect 50% of all new cars, we need to be able to deliver information to those cars everywhere and that takes big data”, explains Maxime Flament.