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A glimpse on 2025 – V

Timeline of Vehicle – to- everything communication that will be supported by 5G. LTE (4G) is flanking this roadmap to provide similar services (although with higher latency). Notice the involvement of car manufacturers in the process. Image credit: Rakesh Shrestha et al, under CC-BY

7. Tailored Streets

Here again Huawei is using an unusual naming, Tailored Streets, to indicate the expected evolution of vehicle to whatever communications.

The quest for full autonomy continues, and it always seem just ’round the corner. Autonomous vehicles have been demonstrated, there are a few autonomous cabs in service in specific areas but a full autonomy that would let a car roam any place is still to come.

Hence the search for a plan “B”. The idea is that if a vehicle can communicate with other vehicles, with the road infrastructure and with any potential obstacles (yes, including you as pedestrian), it would be easier to ensure safe autonomous driving. In order to establish this communications you need an effective, low latency high capacity infrastructure and you need to get responses from the world around you (with you being a vehicle).

5G has often been presented as the ideal communication infrastructure and -eventually- it will be used. So far it is not possible because:

  • coverage is still limited (what happens when there is no coverage?)
  • the cost of connecting to 5G is too high (not the cost of the 5G service, that is equal to the one you need to pay for 4 and 3G in most Countries, but the cost of the dongle -chips- to connect to the network)
  • lack of objects that can communicate using 5G (IoTs are using 4G, with some still connecting with GPRS -2G!-)

According to Huawei a pervasive 5G communications infrastructure will be available in 2025 (true in many places and false in many, many others!). Car manufacturers are considering both 4G and 5G as communication infrastructure for vehicle to whatever communications.

The other issue is to get responses from the environment, i.e. to have smart objects connected to the infrastructure that are ready to communicate. This is even trickier  since it requires decentralised evolution and that is going to take much more time than the deployment of the communication infrastructure.

Personally I feel that the quest towards fully autonomous vehicle will continue since that is the real solution to the goal of autonomous driving. You cannot rely on the existence of the communication infrastructure at all times, even less on the capability of any kind of obstacles to let the vehicle know they can be in the way.

I see V2X (Vehicle to whatever communications) as interesting in providing additional information that go beyond safety requirements. These latter needs to be addressed, completely and satisfactorily by the vehicle on its own. I can see my car receiving/providing traffic information from/to other vehicles, getting information on what may be of interest to me (once that will be possible the real problem will be how to avoid being overwhelmed by ads …).

This V2X can lead to tailored streets, streets that will appear customised to my interest and needs. 2025 is probably too soon, but quite a few vehicles will be extensively connected. What is even more likely is that the smartphone, (driver and passenger alike) will take over this V2X communications for the part of interest to me and you. That will leave the V2X confined to chats of the engines and suspensions but I don0t see that as worth of an expensive “ad hoc”  infrastructure.

About Roberto Saracco

Roberto Saracco fell in love with technology and its implications long time ago. His background is in math and computer science. Until April 2017 he led the EIT Digital Italian Node and then was head of the Industrial Doctoral School of EIT Digital up to September 2018. Previously, up to December 2011 he was the Director of the Telecom Italia Future Centre in Venice, looking at the interplay of technology evolution, economics and society. At the turn of the century he led a World Bank-Infodev project to stimulate entrepreneurship in Latin America. He is a senior member of IEEE where he leads the New Initiative Committee and co-chairs the Digital Reality Initiative. He is a member of the IEEE in 2050 Ad Hoc Committee. He teaches a Master course on Technology Forecasting and Market impact at the University of Trento. He has published over 100 papers in journals and magazines and 14 books.