Innovation

5G will enable autonomous vehicles to become four-wheeled clouds

At MWC Americas 2018, TechRepublic spoke with Glenn Lurie, CEO, Synchronoss Technologies about how 5G networks will enable autonomous vehicles to communicate with each other and become four-wheeled clouds.

CEO Synchronoss Technologies Glenn Lurie tells TechRepublic's Teena Maddox how autonomous cars will communicate through 5G.

Glenn Lurie: 5G is important for a lot of reasons. And then there's a lot of hype. And at the show here, it's going to be discussed probably in almost every conversation. And what's exciting about it, is it's the next generation of our networks for global-wireless services. And one of the biggest and most important aspects of it, is it's the first G, meaning the first generation move that's really focused on use cases. It's focused on IoT. It's focused on a whole set of new opportunities with faster speeds, and lower latencies that it brings. The reason I say it's different is the former Gs, the 2G, 3G, 4G, were all about speed and capacity. And this one will give us those things, but really 3GPP, and the industry has focused it on where do we want to go? Where's that next big horizon for the industry?The big difference 5G will make is that it's really those latencies. Latencies are going to make basically everything real time. And when you think about being mobile and real time, it changes things. When you think about autonomous driving, this will make a key role.

When you think about the cloud ... the cloud is a very important tool, but when the cloud becomes real time, then it changes everything. Even from a standpoint of a smartphone, you really aren't going to need to buy these heavy, heavy gig smartphones, because you'll have the cloud. And if you have the cloud backing up with all of your precious content, and everything that you do, now you can go utilize that data with really any device. And there's just so much it's going to bring, and around smart cities, and around medical, is a big discussion, that is going to change a lot of industries. It's almost the old adage that if you build it, they will come. Once this is built, we're going to see things we haven't even thought of. When you think about 5G, and specifically with the automotive industry and telematics, the industry has made some nice moves. There's a good chunk of cars, globally and in the US that are connected.

Really the next big step is having cars talking to cars, and cars talking to infrastructure. What that will then bring, is that safety aspect. And, when you think about 5G driving, with those low latencies, now you have the ability for literally cars to not hit each other. And I know how that sounds. People go, that sounds a little crazy. But actually when you have real time, those cars talking with the cloud, talking with infrastructure, and talking with the city, it's going to give you these advantages to actually deliver incredible results for customers. And really the only way this works, is if the end user really does see the benefit. And the benefit of having real time traffic, and the benefit of knowing the best route, those things people take for granted, and reality is, it's going to get better and better.

SEE: Tech and the future of transportation (ZDNet special report) | Download the report as a PDF (TechRepublic)

On top of that, the car really is going to be a four-wheel cloud. Because there's so much data coming off of that vehicle, that's going to be useful in so many different places, that 5G is going to make that actually happen, and going to make it available so that now you've got that data that you can go utilize to make decisions. And the exciting thing for a mayor or a city manager is cities will become more efficient and will get better.

And when you think about timing of 5G, you're hearing a lot of wonderful things, especially in the US coming from the carriers. They're all spending a lot of money, working very hard. But this is going to take time. You're going to see areas in cities get put together, and you're going to see 5G launch, and we're all going to live and learn, and see how those launches go. But again, the heavy lifting in 5G really becomes the sighting, and getting the back haul done again, you're going to have to have fiber to all these sites. Most people understand, to get those latencies, you're going to have to have small cells that are very close together. So there's a lot of heavy lifting for the carriers.

So we're going to see this happen over time. What you're going to see is, what's really also great with 5G, is you're still going to have all these devices falling back to 4G LTE. And we all know, 4G LTE is fantastic and does a great job, but it's going to take time to build these networks out. It's going to take time for the carriers to really get this coverage in every aspect, in every area of the country. But again, it's going to be real exciting to watch these launches, end of this year and into 2019. And as we see these wonderful new things come, as customers see the benefit, the carriers will go faster and faster.

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About Teena Maddox

Teena Maddox is a Senior Writer at TechRepublic, covering hardware devices, IoT, smart cities and wearables. She ties together the style and substance of tech. Teena has spent 20-plus years writing business and features for publications including Peo...

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