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Three Requirements for the Next Generation of Connected Cars

Smart cars have the potential to change the world in a meaningful way.
By Christer Boberg
Jun 18, 2018

Connected cars have sparked the imagination for decades. Reduced traffic, fewer accidents and more productive transit times are just a few of the benefits of a world with connected, smart cars.

There's a reason we've been talking about these cars for so long, but none of us is cruising around reading a book while the car drives for us: it's extremely difficult. The amount of data generated is mind-boggling, the connectivity requirements are intense and the stakes are extremely high.

It's one of the biggest technology challenges the industry has ever faced, and one of the biggest management challenges the industry has ever faced. It will require forward thinking and breaking barriers. Specifically, here are three requirements for automated cars to come out of science fiction and become a reality.

New Technology
At their heart, connected cars pose a technology challenge. Next-generation connected car services will generate an enormous amount of data, which will need to be shared between cars and the cloud, pushing exabytes of data per month over the networks.

Yet, the current version of mobile broadband on which the cars must operate was built with consumer services in mind. When this technology was introduced, there was never a thought of its potential in industrial cases, never mind connected and even autonomous vehicles. To bring it up to speed, there are a few important considerations. First is all of that data. Second is that cars are mobile, and they're fast compared to many other IoT appliances. Third, it is often critical either from a safety point of view and/or a business point of view. The technology, then, must be able to deal with many variables, as well as handle different quality and capacity situations in a predictive way.

The technology also has to be future-proof and built to last for decades, rather than merely for years. Think about cellular technology in general, giving superior support for future evolution with backward-compatibility in mind. People switch out cell phones every year or two, so technology can change often without a big effect. When talking about cars, though, they will have to work to support the cars and their many owners for 10 years or more, and the demand for having them connected will grow. That means automakers can't just jump on technology that won't necessarily be around a few years down the road.

Cooperation
When 5G was being developed, the needs and use cases for the automotive industry were taken into account. Telecom companies have been working closely with key automotive actors, and have solicited automotive industry feedback. This type of initial collaboration is a good start, but the next round of technology required to support connected cars—including the Internet of Things (IoT), security, connectivity, the cloud and so forth—will require collaboration on a whole different multi-actor level.

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