Increasing digitalization has led to the proliferation of data. The Internet of Things (IoT) is a technological evolution that has thrived on the availability of this limitless data. Despite the business impact of the pandemic, enterprise spending on IoT was expected to grow 24% by the end of 2021. By 2030, it is estimated that there will be 25.4 billion IoT devices across the globe. IoT is no longer a nascent technology, but a game changer that is enabling global businesses to build on the foundations of artificial intelligence, machine learning, big data, and the cloud to unlock new possibilities for the future.
How 5G and IoT are changing the automotive and transport industries
The transformational phase in IoT led technology revitalization has greatly benefited two sectors: automotive and transport. 5G wireless communication has been a catalyst in this transformation. The advancement in Industry 4.0 and IoT has given a significant impetus to the market for connected and autonomous vehicles. The premise of 5G technology is essentially based on the assurance of ultra-high speed data transfer and low latency, which means quicker response times and better reliability.
Today, several vehicle manufacturers leverage IoT to connect to cellular networks for real-time navigation, driver assistance features, connected infotainment, and emergency services. With the advent of 5G, applications such as autonomous driving, Vehicle-2-Vehicle (V2V), Vehicle-2-Infrastructure (V2I), Vehicle-2-Network (V2N), and Vehicle-2-Pedestrian (V2P) communications will receive great impetus. The reliability, availability, speed, and lower latency of 5G has the potential to enable a Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X) environment.
Gartner estimates that the share of 5G-enabled cars that are actively connected to a 5G service will grow from 15% in 2020 to 74% in 2023, reaching 94% in 2028. By 2023, the automotive industry will become the largest market opportunity for 5G IoT solutions. Gartner further estimates that it will represent 53% of the overall 5G IoT endpoint opportunity in that year. The 5G era is expected to bring in network and service capabilities that previously were not available. The combination of 5G, IoT and Edge AI will facilitate the change to smart transportation or mobility. In this paper, we explore the different dimensions of mobility and the critical role of 5G wireless in bridging the gap and creating innovative services that can leverage the connectivity options for vehicles in the near future.
The next step for the automotive industry: Internet of Vehicles (IoV)
In simple terms, Internet of Vehicles (IoV) can be described as a network that utilizes sensors, software, and technology to connect vehicles to their relative environment (entities such as pedestrians, traffic management equipment, other vehicles, pedestrians, parking lots, and so on) and exchange data. At the base is the IoT domain which has changed the face of the transportation and traffic management systems to a more advanced and interconnected system which will allow vehicles to communicate with each other as well as with road side infrastructure. IoV has originated from an older technology called Vehicular Ad Hoc Networks (VANETs). In its conventional form, VANET enabled cars to form spontaneous wireless connections with other vehicles and devices. Today’s technology enabled and modern cars have approximately 100 million lines of software codes. IoV combines this with smart devices to access and communicate information with the ecosystem.
The connected vehicles in future will have a large number of connected end-points and a high volume of data exchanged. In the future, any vehicle will have the capability to connect anything at any time in an entirely flexible, reliable and secure way. 5G communication will be key for this network connectivity requirements to deliver the required services. With its incredibly low latency, high speed of communication, and availability of high volume of data communication, 5G is most suited for vehicle to infrastructure connectivity.
5G and Edge: Two key technologies to facilitate IoV
The crux of this technology is communication and the speed at which the communication takes place. This is enabled by a variety of interconnected entities – hardware, software, network, and the communications service providers. The ultimate aim of IoV is to ensure safety of the vehicle and its environment in addition to enhancing the vehicle maintenance. Hence, within the IoV infrastructure, there are 5 key connections that need to be established: Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V), Vehicle-to-Human (V2H), Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I), Vehicle-to-Roadside Unit (V2R), and Vehicle-to-Sensors (V2S). Conventional wireless communication methods are incapable of providing the latency and availability required for the IoV infrastructure. IoV requires real-time insights on the vehicular movement, road traffic and other factors, make predictive analytics, and initiate the corrective actions for better vehicular movement and traffic management.
Edge computing is a critical part of IoV, enabling moving vehicles to connect to the surrounding environment and communicate to the compute infrastructure for data analytics and inferencing with very low latency. Complex analytics and calculations can be performed in the Edge servers to meet the requirement of low latency and bandwidth efficiency thereby reducing the cloud burden and delay. 5G and Edge computing are inextricably linked, with their combined ability to deliver such complex and low latency requirements.
IoV draws support from 5G communication technology which is capable of ultra-reliable low latency communications (uRLLC), enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB), and massive machine type communications (mMTC) by incorporating techniques such as massive MIMO (multiple-input multiple-output), network virtualization and Edge computing. Mobile edge computing has proven to be an enabling technology for IoV, providing the potential solutions for sharing the computation capabilities among vehicles, in addition to other accessible resources.
Edge AI and analytics, another important aspect in IoV, basically entails the collection and analysis of data at the sensor or device level. It enables the decision making at the edge, further enhancing the agility of the vehicular sensors and reducing risks.
Another noteworthy technology is ‘beamforming’, an enabling technology within 5G. This technology is used with phased array antennae systems to help focus a wireless signal on a specific device, rather than spreading the signal in all directions, thereby resulting in direct communication. Beamforming transceivers are integrated into massive MIMO arrays at both the device as well as the cell-site ends. These technologies hold the promise of bringing down the IoT connectivity speeds to almost instant data delivery with less than a millisecond of delay, thereby enhancing the reliability of the communication.