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Faster, safer and more efficient: How 5G will change tomorrow's cars


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The high-speed wireless technology isn't just for your phone -- it promises to change tomorrow's vehicles and roads for the better.

Most of the hype about 5G wireless networks centers on faster data speeds for phones and laptops. But there's a whole range of internet-connected things out there that stand to also benefit from this faster, more robust connection of the future, perhaps none more so than tomorrow's cars. 

While the major US carriers will activate their 5G wireless networks in 2019, widespread automotive adoption is probably a few years away. But when 5G does hit the road, the benefits in cars will be similar to those for smartphones: bringing data into the car for passenger and driver consumption and sending more data out at a faster rate. 

More and more of today's modern cars boast some sort of local area Wi-Fi hotspot feature that allows passengers' mobile devices to share an onboard 4G LTEconnection. LTE can be pretty fast, but it also can get bogged down when everyone in the car or nearby is using smartphones and tablets to stream music, video and data. That's where 5G comes in: Its manyfold increase in bandwidth and speed means that every seat in a seven-passenger SUV could stream a different HD (or 4K) Netflix show without breaking a sweat. OK, so the kids won't be watching the scenery on a car trip. But as they're glued to a screen, hopefully they won't ask, "How much longer?"

 

If you're a driver too busy keeping your eyes on the road, you can still see the benefits of 5G in the car. Automakers will be able to take advantage of that bandwidth to bring rich media and more information into the dashboard. For example, the Byton K-Byte concept's massive dashboard display is betting heavily on 5G to power its connected media, health monitoring and social tech. As more of the web seeps into the cockpit, automakers will follow.

Connecting the car to the web

A 5G connection works both ways, and there will be benefits to both the driver and the automaker from being able to draw more data out of the car, including better remote monitoring and faster remote control of autonomous cars.

If you've ever used a phone or smartwatch to remotely unlock your car, you'll know that the time between tapping the app and getting a response on the car can be anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes on 4G. There's a similar delay when, for example, you remotely request battery status on a plug-in hybrid. The reason for the lag is that both tasks require a lot of information to be sent over a wireless connection. But 5G will be a low-latency technology, meaning that it can process more information with little delay. The result is that in addition to a minor increase in convenience, 5G could mean that your phone replaces your key fob completely, allowing web-authenticated locking and unlocking that's less fiddly than NFC and more secure.

This will almost certainly become the case as alternative ownership models -- including car-sharing services, vehicle subscription services and corporate vehicle fleets -- begin to grow and cloud-based driver profiles allow drivers to move seamlessly from car to car. One day, you could park your Audi at LAX, land in New York and hop into another Audi, unlocking it with an app over 5G while instantly downloading your seating position, contacts and favorite playlists.

Every electric car is a connected car

More and more, the cars of the future will move toward electrification -- whether it's full-battery electrics or plug-in hybrids -- and almost every electrified car needs to be connected to the web in some way. There are just too many benefits for them not to be: from remotely monitoring battery levels and charging status to searching for charging stations and smart route planning. 5G promises to streamline today's sometimes clunky connections.

The same low-latency benefits mentioned above apply here. A 5G connection between the car, the web and your mobile device could allow more granular monitoring of battery level when, for example, you're plugged into a public charging station. Instantaneous updates could help you catch that annoying neighbor who keeps unplugging your EV in the act.

While on the road, a faster connection to infrastructure and traffic monitoring can help smart EVs plan efficient routes that maximize range. Meanwhile, more robust connections to charging networks could mean an end to arriving to a charging station only to find it occupied.

The road to autonomy

In the short term, autonomous vehicles will have to share the road with human drivers. So onboard processing will be more important to self-driving cars than cloud computing. They'll have to be able to react to unpredictable driving conditions, even in areas where connectivity isn't so great. However, that doesn't mean that there won't be any short-term benefits to 5G-connected self-driving cars.

Udelv, for example, is testing self-driving delivery vehicles in California. Per state law, a human "safety driver" is required during testing phase to aid in tricky situations like construction zones. Eventually, the startup hopes to use low-latency networks and remote safety drivers that can command the trucks from a central data center.

A 5G connection would, in theory, allow a few humans to monitor a fleet of autonomous trucks with the zero input lag that's necessary for safe remote control. No doubt autonomous tech companies like Waymo and Uber, automakers and other self-driving startups are eyeing 5G for this very reason.

The truly self-driving car and beyond

Looking further down the road to a day when truly self-driving cars are more widespread, 5G connectivity will begin to play a much larger role.

Autonomous cars that can communicate with each other (V2V) and the infrastructure (V2X) have the potential to pull off all sorts of neat tricks. Platooning, for example, allows self-driving car or trucks to move together in formation, reducing aerodynamic losses on the highway and drastically reducing traffic inefficiency in urban areas.

The next time you're at a traffic light, watch how the cars start moving one after another when the light turns green and how much time is wasted waiting for (often distracted) driver to react. Now imagine every car in a column taking off simultaneously the instant the light changes. This would only be possible with a no-lag connection between the cars and the traffic light, the sort of connection promised by 5G.

Meanwhile, every one of those autonomous cars will be packed to the gills with sensors -- cameras, radar, lidar and more -- collecting petabytes of data every day. Collecting even a fraction of that data is invaluable to improving everything from city planning to just making self-driving cars smarter through distributed computing, but doing so will require a beefy data connection.

From here to the future

From more efficient and entertaining commuting to smarter self-driving cars, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Below the surface are the trucking industry, fleet management, logistics companies and mega retailers, all busy brainstorming ways that big data -- perhaps backed by robust 5G wireless connectivity or whatever lies beyond -- can change the way we move people and goods around the world and into the future.

Check out the rest of CNET's coverage of 5G technology to learn more about the next big upgrade in wireless connectivity.

 

 

 

 

 

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So to sum it up, the biggest benefits will be you can unlock your car faster with your smartphone, everyone but the driver will have faster internet on non-cellular internet devices, and you'll know much faster if your car is fully charged, rather than maybe having the update take a couple minutes.

Oh, lets not forget safety drivers remotely monitoring/operating vehicles on public roadways.  I wonder how many vehicles will be allowed to be monitored by a single remotely located safety driver, and how many of them they can make crash at the same time by hitting the wrong button on his keyboard?

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The high-speed wireless technology isn't just for your phone -- it promises to change tomorrow's vehicles and roads for the better.

Most of the hype about 5G wireless networks centers on faster data speeds for phones and laptops. But there's a whole range of internet-connected things out there that stand to also benefit from this faster, more robust connection of the future, perhaps none more so than tomorrow's cars. 

While the major US carriers will activate their 5G wireless networks in 2019, widespread automotive adoption is probably a few years away. But when 5G does hit the road, the benefits in cars will be similar to those for smartphones: bringing data into the car for passenger and driver consumption and sending more data out at a faster rate. 

More and more of today's modern cars boast some sort of local area Wi-Fi hotspot feature that allows passengers' mobile devices to share an onboard 4G LTEconnection. LTE can be pretty fast, but it also can get bogged down when everyone in the car or nearby is using smartphones and tablets to stream music, video and data. That's where 5G comes in: Its manyfold increase in bandwidth and speed means that every seat in a seven-passenger SUV could stream a different HD (or 4K) Netflix show without breaking a sweat. OK, so the kids won't be watching the scenery on a car trip. But as they're glued to a screen, hopefully they won't ask, "How much longer?"

 

If you're a driver too busy keeping your eyes on the road, you can still see the benefits of 5G in the car. Automakers will be able to take advantage of that bandwidth to bring rich media and more information into the dashboard. For example, the Byton K-Byte concept's massive dashboard display is betting heavily on 5G to power its connected media, health monitoring and social tech. As more of the web seeps into the cockpit, automakers will follow.

Connecting the car to the web

A 5G connection works both ways, and there will be benefits to both the driver and the automaker from being able to draw more data out of the car, including better remote monitoring and faster remote control of autonomous cars.

If you've ever used a phone or smartwatch to remotely unlock your car, you'll know that the time between tapping the app and getting a response on the car can be anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes on 4G. There's a similar delay when, for example, you remotely request battery status on a plug-in hybrid. The reason for the lag is that both tasks require a lot of information to be sent over a wireless connection. But 5G will be a low-latency technology, meaning that it can process more information with little delay. The result is that in addition to a minor increase in convenience, 5G could mean that your phone replaces your key fob completely, allowing web-authenticated locking and unlocking that's less fiddly than NFC and more secure.

This will almost certainly become the case as alternative ownership models -- including car-sharing services, vehicle subscription services and corporate vehicle fleets -- begin to grow and cloud-based driver profiles allow drivers to move seamlessly from car to car. One day, you could park your Audi at LAX, land in New York and hop into another Audi, unlocking it with an app over 5G while instantly downloading your seating position, contacts and favorite playlists.

Every electric car is a connected car

More and more, the cars of the future will move toward electrification -- whether it's full-battery electrics or plug-in hybrids -- and almost every electrified car needs to be connected to the web in some way. There are just too many benefits for them not to be: from remotely monitoring battery levels and charging status to searching for charging stations and smart route planning. 5G promises to streamline today's sometimes clunky connections.

The same low-latency benefits mentioned above apply here. A 5G connection between the car, the web and your mobile device could allow more granular monitoring of battery level when, for example, you're plugged into a public charging station. Instantaneous updates could help you catch that annoying neighbor who keeps unplugging your EV in the act.

While on the road, a faster connection to infrastructure and traffic monitoring can help smart EVs plan efficient routes that maximize range. Meanwhile, more robust connections to charging networks could mean an end to arriving to a charging station only to find it occupied.

The road to autonomy

In the short term, autonomous vehicles will have to share the road with human drivers. So onboard processing will be more important to self-driving cars than cloud computing. They'll have to be able to react to unpredictable driving conditions, even in areas where connectivity isn't so great. However, that doesn't mean that there won't be any short-term benefits to 5G-connected self-driving cars.

Udelv, for example, is testing self-driving delivery vehicles in California. Per state law, a human "safety driver" is required during testing phase to aid in tricky situations like construction zones. Eventually, the startup hopes to use low-latency networks and remote safety drivers that can command the trucks from a central data center.

A 5G connection would, in theory, allow a few humans to monitor a fleet of autonomous trucks with the zero input lag that's necessary for safe remote control. No doubt autonomous tech companies like Waymo and Uber, automakers and other self-driving startups are eyeing 5G for this very reason.

The truly self-driving car and beyond

Looking further down the road to a day when truly self-driving cars are more widespread, 5G connectivity will begin to play a much larger role.

Autonomous cars that can communicate with each other (V2V) and the infrastructure (V2X) have the potential to pull off all sorts of neat tricks. Platooning, for example, allows self-driving car or trucks to move together in formation, reducing aerodynamic losses on the highway and drastically reducing traffic inefficiency in urban areas.

The next time you're at a traffic light, watch how the cars start moving one after another when the light turns green and how much time is wasted waiting for (often distracted) driver to react. Now imagine every car in a column taking off simultaneously the instant the light changes. This would only be possible with a no-lag connection between the cars and the traffic light, the sort of connection promised by 5G.

Meanwhile, every one of those autonomous cars will be packed to the gills with sensors -- cameras, radar, lidar and more -- collecting petabytes of data every day. Collecting even a fraction of that data is invaluable to improving everything from city planning to just making self-driving cars smarter through distributed computing, but doing so will require a beefy data connection.

From here to the future

From more efficient and entertaining commuting to smarter self-driving cars, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Below the surface are the trucking industry, fleet management, logistics companies and mega retailers, all busy brainstorming ways that big data -- perhaps backed by robust 5G wireless connectivity or whatever lies beyond -- can change the way we move people and goods around the world and into the future.

Check out the rest of CNET's coverage of 5G technology to learn more about the next big upgrade in wireless connectivity.

 

 
 
 
 


I foresee these connected, autonomous vehicles as the greatest threat to freedom of travel and thus to freedom itself that the emerging autocracy can impose on our citizenry.

Continuous contact, ability to control vehicle operation, driving routes and speed in fact will allow government functionaries to ultimately decide whether you can travel at all. Hey, election results could be controlled to insure that significant numbers of voters of the undesirable party cannot get to the polls. Bad idea.....


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Yeah... I can't even get basic cell reception at my house. (At least not with this stupid iPhone 7Plus and AT&T. )


Before ATT upgraded to LTE, I used to get 4 Bars Cellular Signal and excellent 3G/4G Data. Now, Cellular is usually 1 Bar, LTE is unreliable and when it degrades to 4G the data is super slow.


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5 hours ago, C_Hallbert said:

Continuous contact, ability to control vehicle operation, driving routes and speed in fact will allow government functionaries to ultimately decide whether you can travel at all.

I believe, by law, truckers are required to take a mandatory "rest period".  Their trucks are capable of enforcing this.

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21 hours ago, Cougar_ml said:

So to sum it up, the biggest benefits will be you can unlock your car faster with your smartphone, everyone but the driver will have faster internet on non-cellular internet devices, and you'll know much faster if your car is fully charged, rather than maybe having the update take a couple minutes.

Oh, lets not forget safety drivers remotely monitoring/operating vehicles on public roadways.  I wonder how many vehicles will be allowed to be monitored by a single remotely located safety driver, and how many of them they can make crash at the same time by hitting the wrong button on his keyboard?

I didn't read the article because I am familiar with the technology, if that is what it said it is wrong.  The point of V2V is so the cars can communicate with each other and know what is going on.  They would even have devices for bicycles and pedestrians so the cars know you are there.  Traffic lights would also communicate so, if don't properly, you would never stop.

It requires agreement between many parties though so I think it will take a long time to implement and the end product will not be as good as it could be.

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44 minutes ago, windowasher said:

This absolutely insane rush to driverless and remote controlled cars will be deadly.  How long will it be before some whack-a-doodle loads his vehicle up with explosives and remote controls it right down a parade route and sets it off?

Anyone with some mechanical ability and alittle creativity could do that now using old school hardware.

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The data speed will be there, but in the automotive industry the biggest challenge with "connected cars" are the limitations and reliability of the apps they run on and the fact that technology is always quite a bit behind by the time it is able to be utilized on the production line.

Edited by Maxx
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