Connected cars are (almost) here and they are running on 5G

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV.COM Ltd.

The new features include warning mechanisms triggered when other vehicles suddenly brake or change lanes, when pedestrians unexpectedly cross the road, or when traffic lights are about to change. [EATA]

This article is part of our special report MWC17: The power behind the tech revolution.

5G is on everyone’s lips at Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2017, and exciting developments in the field of automated and connected driving are providing a sneak preview into how life-changing a technology it really is, writes Victor Zhang.

Victor Zhang is President of Huawei’s European Public Affairs and Communications Office

During a live demonstration at the world famous Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya race track, cellular technology connecting cars to each other, to people, and to roadside infrastructure was showcased for the first time in Europe.

Passengers in an Audi vehicle fitted with ground-breaking C-V2X technology, which is part of the evolution of 4G towards 5G, could experience first-hand how connected vehicles can upgrade safety and enhance the driving experience.

The new features include warning mechanisms triggered when other vehicles suddenly brake or change lanes, when pedestrians unexpectedly cross the road, or when traffic lights are about to change. A ‘see-through’ video feed from other vehicles provides improved visibility on upcoming entry roads or traffic situations.

The technology, developed and showcased by Vodafone and Huawei with the support of Audi, constitutes a very concrete step towards a more connected road experience. It follows joint tests carried out by Huawei and DLR (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt) on 5G for cooperative automated driving in Munich, which revealed that a reliable and ultra-low-latency connection based on 5G V2X between vehicles minimises the risk of collisions.

Connected cars are, of course, just one application area where superfast, high-capacity 5G connectivity is pushing vertical transformation. However, the evident advances presented at MWC provide a practical illustration that revolutionary technology is on our doorstep.

Stakeholders across various industries, from public and private sectors alike, must join forces to take these advances from test beds and showcases into our cities and our daily lives.

On 28 February, also at MWC, the 5G Infrastructure Public-Private Partnership (5G-PPP), which Huawei is a member of, released a White Paper outlining new business opportunities and business models offered by 5G. The document provides a blueprint for seizing these opportunities by moving towards harmonised 5G standardisation, spectrum, deployment and regulation. It calls for the promotion of investments through a stable, consistent and accurate regulatory framework.

The European Commission has taken decisive action to prove that it is committed to implementing just that. Its proposals for the gradual launch of 5G networks from 2018 onwards, released in September last year in the context of its plans to develop a competitive Digital Single Market, provide a welcome contribution to this joint effort. The Action Plan includes pan-European multi-stakeholder trials to turn 5G innovation into fully-fledged business solutions.

Getting back to the flagship example of connected driving, some key initiatives to creating the right synergies at a European level are also getting underway. The newly-created European Automotive Telecom Alliance for connected driving, initiated and chaired by EU Commissioner Günther Oettinger, involves six EU member states, six leading sectorial associations, as well as 37 companies, including telecom operators, vendors, automobile manufacturers and suppliers.

A memorandum of understanding signed with the 5G Automotive Association will improve global cooperation.

Looking at the achievements presented this week at MWC, we can see how such approaches are triggering progress. They are the result of open collaboration and investment in key technologies, and they form part of a common strategic move towards creating connectivity where it matters.

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