• Connectivity and autonomous driving: How the new 5G mobile communications standard is going to revolutionise our future


    Emma Davis, Hella Australia

    Everything is set to get better with the new 5G mobile communications standard. At least that is what the digital experts are telling us. It is a fact that the fifth generation of mobile communications will be significantly faster than 4G/LTE and therefore will open up a treasure trove of completely new possibilities. This applies to private users but above all to the world of industry. Because, and here the experts are absolutely convinced, 5G will be able to spark off several revolutions all at the same time.

    5G is supposed to be from ten up to 100 times faster than 4G. In real speeds that could mean a rate of up to four gigabytes of data per second. In other words, 5G is amazingly fast. So fast that data can be transferred in virtually real time.  A huge part of this escalation in speed has been made possible thanks to millimetre wave technology: Currently mobile and linked devices share a narrow frequency range between 3 KHz and 3 GHz. And because the number of such devices is constantly increasing, data transmission is becoming increasingly slower. By using frequencies in an area below 6 GHz but especially in the region of the so-called millimetre wave range with frequencies lying between 30 and 300 GHz, where at the moment still no data is being transmitted by mobile devices, it will be possible to find plenty of bandwidth.


    Data transmission in real time
    This makes the new mobile communications standard tremendously interesting for the average surfer on the net. But for companies operating in the automotive industry, this new standard is particularly attractive and very appealing. After all, 5G allows them to use applications which are nothing short of real revolutions.
    The key term is this: "The Internet of Things". It describes a global IT infrastructure which enables physical and virtual objects to be linked with one another. What sounds like something out of science fiction and just very theoretical is in actual fact more or less within our grasp.


    5G is intended to get the Internet of Things and Industry 4.0 up and running
    One example of the power of "The Internet of Things" is the way it can really bring to life the much-talked-about Industry 4.0. Here we are talking about a fully interlinked, smart and wireless manufacturing of industrial goods. In plain English this means that in the digital future - and up to a point this is already happening today - machines and components will be equipped with sensors which constantly transmit and receive data. In this way, machines will be communicating with one another but also with other departments within their company such as Development or Sales.

    Customers and suppliers, too, can be integrated in the interconnected system by means of interfaces. The result of such connectivity is that every linked machine, for example, knows how many components are still in stock and can automatically place an order with a supplier as soon as stock levels dip too low. You do not have to be an expert to realise that in such a situation the flow of data will take on massive proportions. And with the soon-to-be-outdated 4G standard, it would be impossible to cope with such an enormous data volume.  Other mega trends materialising in the coming decades also mean that an incredible amount of data , for these purposes too, will have to be transmitted - and all that in real time.



    Toward autonomous driving with 5G
    Researchers and developers are already working on the mobility of the future today. And - of course - this mobility is of the connected kind: Vehicles will communicate with other vehicles, with the traffic infrastructure, with people and with other networks. In this way, warnings about traffic jams or about accidents or even information about parking lot capacities can be given to road users in real time.

    And because this kind of connectivity demands ultra-fast communication in real time, 5G is seen as the crucial driver in the move toward highly automated or autonomous driving where it is planned that drivers lose at least a little of the sole responsibility of driving.
    But this does not only mean that life will get more comfortable for drivers. Researchers believe, above all, that autonomous driving is the key to more safety on the road. Depending on the degree of automation present in vehicles, the number of accidents will decrease for, after all, human error is the cause of 90 percent of all car crashes.

    Although the fifth generation of mobile communications should be coming onto the market by 2020, driverless driving is still something quite a way off in the more distant future. Not until the 2030s is it believed that driverless cars will become widespread on our roads.

    For more technical information go to: www.hella.com/techworld

    * The contents of and any opinions contained in this article may not necessarily reflect the opinions of Capricorn Society Ltd.