Adoption of 5G to Revolutionize Automotive Industry pt.2By Alejandro Enríquez | Thu, 09/30/2021 - 15:15
Q: What is the role the automotive industry plays for Qualcomm, particularly in Mexico?
A: Qualcomm just celebrated 36 years as a company, which have been spent developing communication technologies. For 15 years, we have been focused on the automotive industry. In 2013, we were the first to bring 4G connectivity to vehicles in Mexico and a year later, this technology was activated in the country. No other company makes better telematics semiconductors than Qualcomm. Today, every time people connect their phone via Bluetooth to their car, they are most likely using a Qualcomm chip.
Developing technology for the automotive sector is not the same as for the cellphone industry. On average, people change their smartphones every 24 months. This is not the case for a car, which has an average life cycle of 10 years. The automotive industry requires technology with a much longer life span and that involves longer development cycles. On average, it takes approximately three years before a vehicle technology can be commercialized. In 2017, we launched the first C-V2X connectivity module, which is the technology that enables car-to-car connectivity. A year later, it became available and in 2019 it was massified. It is only just making its way into cars now. Connectivity will continue to permeate the automotive industry. For example, Ford announced that, from 2022, all its cars will feature connectivity.
Q: How is the vehicle becoming the ‘most sophisticated mobile device’?
A: In the US, 91 percent of cars had some kind of connectivity by 2020, while around the world it stands at 41 percent. No one will be able to stop this trend because connectivity is required to offer services. The commercialization of data in the automotive sector is no longer just about selling a car. It is about everything people can do with the information and services that can be delivered through the car. When there is a powerful enough network to do that, services like audio, video streaming and video games can be offered through the car. The C-V2X technology plays an important role for the whole industry because communication systems need an access point to transmit. With the C-V2X, access points are called RSUs (Road Site Units) and are placed on all roads to offer connectivity to all vehicles.
We are working with Audi, PSA Group and other motorbike brands such as Ducati to implement this technology. These companies are keen to promote connectivity. The first-use case for automotive technology is safety, meaning that the system warns you if there is a traffic jam ahead, an accident or a blockage. Most accidents in the US, for instance, are because drivers are speeding on a freeway and suddenly there is a traffic jam. If you can reduce that through connectivity, many lives could be saved. If a person is driving behind a trailer, they can connect to their front camera to see when it is safe to overtake. Those are first-use cases but there are thousands of possibilities that this technology opens up.
Today, when drivers see the “check engine” light come on, they take the vehicle to the dealership, which connects with it through a wire to see what happened. With this new technology, the connection is wireless and available everywhere. If the problem is minor, the user can make an appointment with the dealership and fix it later. If it is serious, the system notifies the user and provides the location of the nearest dealership. It also tells the dealership that the customer is on the way and exactly what is needed. This connectivity ecosystem generates a value-added service so that vehicles are always in the best condition and drivers arrive safely at their destination in the most resource-efficient way.
Q: What are the main challenges with data collection and its management in the automotive industry?
A: This is a topic subject to a great deal of debate but, in my opinion, the data belongs to whoever generates it. This has always been the case. Users authorize the use of their data in exchange for a good or a service, such as guaranteeing the good condition of the vehicle. When people buy a vehicle, they are not only buying the product per se but a whole platform that generates information. For example, Waze would be nothing without the users who are powering their software. There is still a need for legislation to define the rules.
At the moment, technology is developing to enable the entire value chain. It is still an open question as to how it will work and how the sector will handle the data generated by users but it will be an agreement between the owner and the brand. At Qualcomm, we are making sure that all user-generated data is stored securely. 4G and 5G technology are very secure and it is very difficult to compromise them. For example, to decrypt the key between a car and the base radio, there are 4 trillion codes, meaning that it will take a computer a very long time to crack it. Even if it does, these codes change from time to time.
Qualcomm is a US technology company focused on mobile technology for data processing. The company was founded in the 1980s and over the years, it has generated technological breakthroughs on mobile connectivity.