Self-driving cars have had a rocky few years – despite general excitement around autonomous vehicles, car accidents and roadblocks in the development of artificial intelligence (AI) have slowed the much anticipated rollout of driverless cars. In fact, only recently did ridesharing services like Uber re-release their autonomous – although not driverless – fleets with pilot programs in select cities.
While manufacturers work to get their autonomous vehicles on the road in the next year or two, demand for connected passenger and commercial vehicles is growing at an increasingly rapid rate. And, as 5G wireless spreads across the nation, eliminating lag time and increasing bandwidth, car manufacturers are looking to develop 5G-enabled car models that meet heightening demands for on-the-road connectivity, paving the way for the official rollout of autonomous vehicles.
According to Verdict and Counterpoint’s Internet of Things Tracker Service, 21 million connected cars were on the road in 2018, and the market for these cars is expected to grow 270% over the next four years. From cars that double as movie theaters to mobile apps that unlock doors to vehicles that can contact emergency services, connected cars are showing no sign of slowing down innovation.
While some experts don’t anticipate that vehicles will be 5G-enabled this year, the reality seems to be on the horizon, serving as the building blocks for true autonomous vehicle deployment.
Shrinking the Timeline for Autonomous Vehicle Deployments
Despite the safety and technology challenges mobility companies currently face when approaching driverless car manufacturing, the prospect of wide-scale 5G availability could significantly shrink the timeline for deployment as it eliminates major barriers to success like latency and insufficient bandwidth.
Early autonomous vehicle companies are already catching on to the advantage – the Swedish transport company Enride, partnered with a 5G network to build a fleet of autonomous vehicles for storage facilities, and Samsung partnered with the Korea Transportation Safety Authority to develop 5G at autonomous vehicle test tracks.
Though there seems to be a lot of skepticism buzzing about the industry, the rollout of autonomous vehicles may not be as far into the future as some may think. With a rapidly growing connected car market and the widespread availability of 5G in reach, mobility companies now have the opportunity to call on the emerging technology, high speed processing and increased bandwidth to process the massive amount of data autonomous vehicles collect for critical latency sensitive decision-making. The future of transportation and networks is closely linked, and infrastructure at the edge will have to enable the two for the next generation of mobility to arrive.
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