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While we're still years away from fully autonomous vehicles, connected car technology is still on pace to make driving and being in cars easier and safer than it's ever been. A connected car could have all the information that a driverless car receives from cameras, radar, ultrasonic, and other types of sensors, but ultimately still needs a human in the driver's seat making all the executive decisions. And connecting that vehicle to dozens if not hundreds of others on the road, as well as municipal street networks and continuously updated maps gives drivers even more relevant information to act under. Fortunately, when it comes to improving vehicle safety – just having all that knowledge is more than half the battle.
The broadest knowledge that connected devices could give drivers involves hazard warnings for weather data, recent road accidents, and traffic information – things that every driver should be made aware of during their trip so they can be prepared before hitting the road, and make smarter routing decisions. This is data that many people already get through their phones, and through location/map apps they use on their commutes.
At HERE, we're moving towards a more personalized navigation guidance. Blending a driver's behavior with the latest map and traffic information.
These same phones also often have cameras that could provide even more data to the driver, even if the car doesn't have any sensors. While the human eye can suffer blind spots and lapses in attention, an objective and unfatiguing camera could stay alert and keep a driver aware of road objects and hazards the driver could miss. A camera image of its surroundings - when compared to a location database – could even be the localization engine when GPS functionality fails in deadspots or urban canyons. Of course, for the phone to gather and process all this data, it would require the types of speed and bandwidth afforded by a 5G network.
The security and comfort from 5G connected vehicles will continue to increase as the cars themselves become better equipped with sensors and assisted-driving features. Many of these features, like cruise control or lane assistance, rely only on information that the car itself can sense around it. Connecting these features via a 5G network would allow it to act based on information – not just from its own sensors – but those of every other connected car around it, and location data provided by services like our own.
How about turning into a blind spot at an intersection? While the driver or car may not be able to sense an oncoming car – if that car is connected – it would be able to tell your car that it's there, allowing your car to factor that into navigating the intersection.
All this connectivity isn't just dependent on vehicle hardware and software, but on a nation-wide 5G (and eventually more advanced) network that can reliably and quickly send data from phone to car, car to car, car to grid, and every other node of communication that any device must tap into to be truly considered “smart.” But once that network is in place, it becomes very easy to upgrade almost every car on the road. So long as there's a 5G-connected device and a way of communicating (in a non-distracting) way with the driver, these features could be implemented into any vehicle.
For more on how HERE plans to make every car smarter, visit us at CES, where we'll have talks and presentations on this and so many other projects we've been working on.