Ecosystem Meets at Turning Point for Connected Vehicles

November 9, 2017

Dr Shane Rooney, IoT Executive Director, GSMA

As we look ahead to 2026, connected vehicles constitute one of the greatest areas of promise for the industry.  Analyst house Machina Research has estimated that, by that year, potential revenues in smart vehicle deployment could reach $273 billion, making it one of the highest growth areas in the entire Internet of Things. The GSMA is therefore pleased to act as supporting association to the International Advanced Mobility Forum 2017: starting on November 30, actors from across the ecosystem will convene over two days in Seoul, to discuss challenges and developments in making the most of this immense market opportunity.  Operators, manufacturers, innovators and regulators will meet to discuss everything from industry cooperation to imminent disruptions, in the now fast-moving industry in connected vehicles.

The conference comes at a highly eventful time. In September Samsung announced the launch of a $300 million fund to back promising startups and innovations in the sector, with an early award of nearly $90 million dollars already paid out to fund smart vehicle platforms at Austrian firm TTTech.  The move is the latest in a series of decisions taken at Samsung to invest in connected vehicles, having recently secured a licence to test self-driving cars in Korea, joining a wide variety of major companies now focussing on fully autonomous vehicles.  Where traditional auto giants have generally dominated the vehicle industry until now, a broader range of major players, including mobile network operators, are now dedicating significant resources to bringing about intelligent driving.

Korea has been at the centre of this recent work, where operators have taken a leading role. Earlier this month, SK Telecom demonstrated its self-driving automobile at the annual Telecom World fair in Seoul, having already completed successful manned road tests; the car was safely able to determine appropriate speeds and give way to adjacent vehicles with two passenger on board, reaching speeds of around 80 km per hour on the highway between Seoul and Suwon. Korean operator KT has secured a license to build the world’s first autonomous vehicle cluster, which will see KT invest around $26 million to connect self-driving vehicles across 432,000 km2 in the Pangyo district of Gyeonggi Province.  The project’s network infrastructure will be partly built around 5G, and the vehicles themselves will be connected via a hybrid vehicle-to-everything (V2X) system, which brings together components of Long-Term-Evolution (LTE) technology and wireless access for vehicle environments (WAVE).

The decision to employ V2X is in keeping with KT’s ambitious vision of generating around $440 million in smart vehicle sales by 2022; Cellular V2X offers by far the longest range of IoT solutions available to connected automobiles, allowing them to communicate with a variety of recipients beyond other vehicles. The information generated can then be used not only to augment the driving experience of the individual driver, but can be collated by municipal authorities to improve real-time understanding of conditions, and administer services more effectively. The data aggregated over time can also aid in longer-term planning decisions, providing a vital resource to decision-makers in these early days of smart-city development.

The full promise of connected vehicles, is coming along quickly now in Asia.  As NVIDIA’s CEO Jensen Huang put it recently, “Creating a fully self-driving car is one of society’s most important endeavours — and one of the most challenging to deliver. New types of cars will be invented, resembling offices, living rooms or hotel rooms on wheels. Travelers will simply order up the type of vehicle they want, based on their destination and activities planned along the way. The future of society will be reshaped.”  Given the amount of time and attention currently spent manually navigating roads, this hardly seems an overstatement.

 

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