major challenge of a short term roll out of the autonomous car? Not AI, but wireless
manufacturers and Silicon Valley giants are
competing among themselves to be the first to roll-out commercially the
autonomous car. One of the latest is Volvo who stated
it will market
its first range of autonomous car by 2021
back for a while, and try to understand what it means.
Brian Krzanich stated that an autonomous car generates 4000 GB of data per day
, equivalent to 3000 average current
users. All those data may not need to be transmitted in real time to the cloud,
but a substantial part would need: autonomous driving is based on accurate and
very data hungry 3D maps that would require to be updated in real time.
low latency and high throughput car connectivity are therefore mandatory. How can
that be achieved?
solution is to use Wifi type of communications such as DSRC (Dedicated Short
Range Communication). This could be a solution within urban areas where hot
spots could be easily deployed but would require gigantic public funding and
many years to equip the entire road systems.
above the autonomous car marketed in 2021 would require permanent, ubiquitous
car connectivity. In the countryside, there are only two ways to connect cars:
satellite or cellular.
satellite technology has made progress its costs are not compatible with data
hungry services: look at
the satellite phone store that present satellite offers: it
is difficult to find plans with 1GB data costing less than USD 1000.
us with cellular technologies. And of course everybody is looking for 5G to
deliver the autonomous vehicle promises: indeed 5G is thought as the high
throughput, low latency network required by the IoT and the connected car.
is not fully standardized yet, and there could be doubts on a quick roll out.
As depicted in
a recent study by Global Data
, only 7 percent of all mobile subscriptions will be 5G-capable in Europe by 2022. The study explains that mobile operators
are reluctant to aggressively roll-out 5G, as they have not had a return on
investment on 3G/4G yet. They would like to keep marketing older technologies.
switch to 5G does not only necessitate to replace hardware in base stations: 5G
is designed for high throughput and require base station equipment to be linked
to the network with optical fibers: less than 40% of European base stations are linked with optical fibre. To implement 5G
would require massive fibre optic upgrade that will take years due to civil
So where does this leave us
by 2021? Well, 4G would be available, and it provides quite interesting
throughputs and low latency, anyway compatible with autonomous car requirements.
figures from Rootmetrics
show that 4G signals are available 90% of the time in the UK for EE,
the weakest operator being Three with 57% of availability time.
there are still two very tough challenges:
A car by definition
roams across the country, and easily penetrates a blind spot of the mobile
operator network. However, this blind spot could be covered by a competing
mobile operator; but as the subscription is with the single operator the car
can not access another mobile operator network. A car should have the
possibility to be always best connected, to access potentially the networks of
several operators in a said region.
challenge for car manufacturers may lie in the cost of the cellular data
services. We are all aware how cost sensitive OEMs are, and data communication
cost should be compliant with a data hungry autonomous car business model.
stated by Roger Lanctot from Stratey Analysis
, the data collected to the cloud represent a
huge number of new lines of services and profits for the OEM and their
suppliers and the communication costs cannot just be passed to the end user.
OEM will need to deal with the cellular costs at a time MNOs would try to
leverage their existing infrastructure and get a return on investment. We can
anticipate quite depressing tariff discussions as OEM would have very limited
leverage, and MNOs would not have incentive to adapt quickly their pricing
downward in a way compatible with the autonomous car business model.
Time is now
running short, but OEM would both need to build a negotiation leverage with
MNOs and get accesses to several 4G MNO networks in a said country – and not
through costly roaming arrangements, which by the way can not take effect in
the home country, as it is legally forbidden.
way to achieve those goals is for OEMs to set their own Full Mobile Virtual
Network Operator, that allow them to control their telecommunications services,
connect to several mobile access networks in a single country and build a
leverage with MNOs, as full MVNOs could switch MNO partners overnight.
MVNO model allows for a smooth addition of 5G capabilities when available,
providing long term sustainability.