Wireless Infrastructure Will Drive Autonomous Vehicle Market

Ford recently filed a patent application with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office for an autonomous police vehicle that can detect traffic violations, pursue vehicles, capture license-plate images, and establish wireless communication with other vehicles, according to an article published by Inside Towers.

The autonomous police car could gather data from traffic cameras and road sensors to detect infractions, or the vehicle itself might detect the violation on its own, according to the article. The vehicle would use artificial intelligence to aim and operate on-board speed detection equipment and cameras, and communicate with other devices in the area such as stationary speed cameras. In the patent application, Ford states that routine tasks, such as issuing speeding tickets or failure to stop at a stop sign, can be automated to free up police officers for other tasks, said Inside Towers.

The company, which controls about half of the U.S. police vehicle market, also is focusing on bringing autonomous vehicle technology to its non-police vehicles with a promise to introduce a fully autonomous vehicle for commercial operation by 2021. Ford said the vehicle will operate without a steering wheel, gas pedal or brake pedal within geo-fenced areas for ride-sharing applications.

Ford is one of many companies pursuing the opportunities in the autonomous vehicle market. GM has promised an autonomous car without steering wheel or pedals by 2019, and Tesla plans to send one of its autonomous vehicles on a cross-country test trip sometime this year. Google began live passenger testing of its Waymo autonomous vehicles in Arizona last year. Other companies working on autonomous vehicle technology include Daimler-Bosch, Volkswagen, BMW and Aptiv.

These technologies will require reliable infrastructure to work. While many emerging Internet of Things use cases can be accommodated on current 4G networks and with the natural evolution of these networks, autonomous driving will place demands on networks such as the need for no latency (or delay) and no loss of data rates even during congested periods.

According to ExteNet CTO Tormod Larsen in an interview with Wireless Week last year, autonomous vehicles will require in the realm of 100 times more bandwidth and a 150 times improvement in latency. 5G will be instrumental in addressing latency and speed needs, and a denser networks of small cells, distributed antenna systems, and a centralized Radio Access Network (RAN) will be key in making autonomous cars a reality, Larsen said.

Success rides on three key inputs for wireless networks: Densification of the networks, with more antennas closer to end users; exponential expansion of backhaul to accommodate the increased use and flow of data; and more spectrum that can be used cleanly for IoT applications.

Autonomous vehicles represent the most dramatic change in transportation since the Interstate Highway System. Investments made by the private sector show that there is a clear business case for the systems, devices and platforms to enable a connected vehicle to everything infrastructure.

The Wireless Infrastructure Association will explore the technical, policy and financial implications of autonomous vehicle to infrastructure technology at Connectivity Expo, May 21–24, in Charlotte, N.C.

Sessions including “Connected and Autonomous Technology: Making it Work at the Infrastructure Level” will examine the technology that enables the wireless exchange of data between vehicles and roadway infrastructure, enabling applications such as intersection safety, speed management, e-tolling, transit safety and operations, and more. This educational track details the opportunities for new business in V2i mobile carriers, systems integrators, governments (state and local), automotive OEMs, public safety professionals, wireless infrastructure partners and more.



The Wireless Infrastructure Association (WIA) represents carriers, infrastructure providers and professional services firms.

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