OnQ Blog

A look ahead at 5G’s impact on the automotive industry

May 22, 2017

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5G is more than just the next step in wireless. It’s the foundation for building the future of efficient industry, smarter technology, and innovative ways to communicate with the world around us. Earlier this year, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. commissioned The 5G Economy, a study that explored the future global economic impact of 5G. What we learned was eye-opening. In 2035, 5G could enable $12.3 trillion in goods and services across all industries and support up to 22 million jobs within the 5G value chain alone. New products and services will be invented. Industries will emerge, and existing ones will be transformed. Among them: the automotive industry.

What does that mean? To find out, we again worked with Professor at Haas School of Business, U.C. Berkeley and Chairman and Principal Executive Officer of Berkeley Research Group, Dr. David Teece and IHS Markit on a follow-up paper, “5G Mobile: Disrupting the Automotive Sector,” which explores the potential economic impact of 5G across the automotive industry. The projections are impressive: By 2035, 5G technology is expected to enable over $2.4 trillion in economic output across the broader automotive sector — almost 20 percent of the projected global impact of 5G.

5G will make cars smarter

While artificial intelligence (AI) is key to the development of autonomous vehicles, so too is communication and connectivity. High-speed data for consumers (along with voice for 3G) was the major consideration when today’s 3G and 4G networks were developed, but increasingly, machine-to-machine communication has become a priority. This requires an enormous amount of bandwidth, which 5G supports. 5G delivers ultra-reliable connections with lower latency. Its high bit rate will enable the exchange of high volumes of 3D mapping data, and the sharing of sensory data will help improve situational awareness, accelerating the path to autonomy.

5G will allow automakers to enhance vehicle connectivity with V2X (vehicle to everything) communication, a new protocol for the way cars communicate with other vehicles (V2V), pedestrians (V2P), networks (V2N), and the surrounding infrastructure (V2I).

5G will make cars safer

Yes, 5G’s effect will bring billions in sales to the automotive sector (about $467 billion, in fact), but its impact will be felt even further. According to IHS, by 2035, 5G will also enable over $1.4 trillion in sales in automotive use sectors like agriculture, mining, construction, and transportation.

For consumers, V2X, supported by 5G, will undoubtedly play an integral role in improving traffic efficiency and reducing collisions. V2V communication, for example, allows vehicles to sense obstacles beyond line of sight. This could be shared video information between cars and shared information from pedestrians and infrastructure. Morgan Stanley believes this could save an estimated $500 billion from accident avoidance.

5G V2X will make commuting to work safer, with fewer time-consuming delays. Not only will our easier commutes alleviate frustration, we’ll gain about $2.7 billion worth of once-wasted hours back, according to Diamandis.

Autonomous vehicles will “know” where parking spots are and identify alternatives to street parking, speeding up traffic and reducing congestion. This could result in a savings of $140 billion from congestion avoidance, according to Morgan Stanley.

5G-enabled V2X extends to public transportation as well and will change the way buses and taxis operate. Imagine if buses had flexible routes, depending on traffic patterns, or how requesting rides could change with autonomous vehicles. Additionally, commercial trucking and delivery services will become more efficient: an increased sharing of data means manufacturers can reliably make real-time adjustments to vehicles’ routes and allow them to operate autonomously for longer periods of time.

Automotive business reimagined

There are still plenty of unknowns when it comes to envisioning the future of the automotive industry with 5G. The development of autonomous cars, for example, challenges manufacturers and OEMs to focus on the rider experience. A larger emphasis on in-vehicle “apps” and other forms of entertainment will emerge, all supported by a standardized 5G network.

The way consumers shop for cars may change as well. Instead of purchasing vehicles strictly for transportation, customers may seek “connected computers on wheels,” challenging manufacturers to redefine the factors that influence purchase. Many drivers may choose to avoid purchasing vehicles altogether, relying instead on more efficient public transportation and ridesharing.

5G reshapes policy

As 5G continues to develop, updating policy measures surrounding its application in the automotive industry will be crucial. The study cites the importance of incentive programs to begin building fiber and electric power infrastructure to current roads for future travel. Proper lanes and parking spaces for autonomous cars, as well as IoT network security and network control, are all important collaborative efforts that ensure 5G connectivity remains consistent.

This progress is also dependent on the adoption of a consistent standard 5G network, which allows manufacturers and OEMs the ability to participate in more innovation, by utilizing universal communication technology.

The automotive industry stretches across the globe, interwoven into almost all aspects of modern life. 5G technology is set to transform it and redefine how we think about automobiles as well as how we use them.


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