From electric cars to self-driving vehicles, the future of automobiles is certainly looking bright. We know that cars are now more than capable of having internet access, but now Japanese automotive giant Honda and telecommunications juggernaut SoftBank look to take that one step further; they've announced talks have commenced towards a joint research project that strengthens connected car technologies.
SoftBank said they’re planning to install experimental 5G base stations at Honda R&D’s Takasu Proving Ground, a private test-driving course in northern Japan, in April 2018. The two Japanese powerhouses will then begin their "full-fledged" joint research under the 5G environment.
The pair said they'll be developing technologies and on-board antennas that will "enable a stable handover of base stations for communication by a vehicle moving at high-speed." Also detailed were recovery technologies for areas that have weak signals; the companies are looking to develop technology that can "secure data sending/receiving performance in areas with a weak signal as well as data processing technologies."
So why all the hype surrounding 5G, then? For one, it'll deliver connectivity at a higher capacity when contrasted to today's 4G networks. Intel, meanwhile, highlights its significance for future cars; it calls both 5G and autonomous driving the "two of the biggest buzzwords in tech these days," while relaying the importance of 5G being needed to help "turn autonomous driving from a vision into a reality."
The chipmaker broke down how 5G will assist the autonomous vehicle industry:
Faster speeds. "Today’s networks need to be much faster to transport the massive data generated and needed by autonomous vehicles. Through mmWave bands and advances in wireless and antenna technology, 5G is expected to deliver multi-gigabit speeds for mobile usages. The industry expects 5G speeds to be capable of up to 10GB per second, over 600 times faster than today’s fastest average LTE speeds in the U.S."
Ultra-low latency. "5G will enable the connectivity needed for autonomous vehicles to be able to make imperative split-second decisions instead of sending and receiving data from a server hundreds of miles away. That’s because 5G plans to deploy computing resources at the very edge of the network in cellular base stations and towers that connect cars via wireless signals."
Vehicle-to-vehicle connectivity. "Autonomous vehicles need to gather and process information to make informed decisions. 5G aims to implement connectivity that allows vehicles to talk to and learn from each other and to the environment around them – even when they are outside of line of sight."
This isn't SoftBank's first foray into the 5G industry. Alongside research company Advanced Smart Mobility, it launched SB Drive, an autonomous vehicle venture that aims to "commercialize smart mobility services that utilize self-driving technologies."