5G will make cars chattier and smarter, but there’s also a fun side to it

microsoft failed with rt but qualcomm is doing windows on arm the right way snapdragon 8cx chip  front

Silicon Valley-based Qualcomm promised faster download speeds and instantaneous communication when it introduced the Snapdragon X55, its second-generation 5G modem, at MWC 2019. That’s great news for millions of smartphone and tablet users, these devices will be on the front line when 5G begins rolling out by the end of 2019, but the technology’s reach will extend far beyond your pocket, purse, or briefcase. Digital Trends talked to Maged Zaki, Qualcomm’s direct of technology and product marketing, to gain insight on some of the ways 5G will reach the automotive industry in the coming years.

The transition from 4G to 5G – which Qualcomm boldly calls “the invention age” – allows companies big and small to apply technology that has, until now, been primarily developed for mobile devices to other market segments, Zaki told Digital Trends. The automotive sector is one of the biggest and most promising areas of implementation because buyer demand and new laws around the world are forcing automakers to bake an increasing amount of connectivity into their models. These two market forces are shaping a new world order in which data is the main currency.

5G promises to reduce communication latency, so cars will be able to exchange information with a cloud in record time. In turn, this will help them communicate with each other, and with the infrastructure they operate in.

ford panasonic v2x car communication qualcomm header

Cars will get more talkative, largely in the name of safety. Some automakers, including Volvo and Mercedes-Benz, already dabbling in vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication technology in Europe. If you’re behind the wheel of, say, a late-model Mercedes-Benz E-Class, its electronic traction control system will detect when you drive over a patch of ice, record its precise location, and issue a warning to other cars in the vicinity. The catch is that, as of 2019, the E-Class can only communicate with other recent Mercedes models. Someone driving an older Mercedes, or an Alfa Romeo, will hit the patch of ice without knowing about it ahead of time.

Making 5G-compatible cars will help automakers offer V2V in more models, and in more areas of the world. Zaki told Digital Trends that Qualcomm has performed over 20 real-world trials in the North America, in Europe, in Asia, and in Australia to prove that the technology works. And, hopefully, the models from this new generation of smart cars (not the pocket-sized, two-seater type) will talk to each other even if they’re made by rival brands. After speaking a great deal but doing little for over a decade, automakers are finally embracing V2V. Ford notably announced it will add it to all of its cars regardless of price and market segment starting in 2022.

Zaki explained one of the major differences between 4G and 5G is that, with the new technology, cars will be able to beam information to specific road users, and wait for acknowledgement to make sure the recipient has received it. For example, your car will be able to target the vehicle on the other side of an intersection and tell it to go. Right now, it would have to broadcast its message to every car around it, which would create pandemonium in even the quietest, most scenic town.

Audi Holoride experience

5G isn’t just about making cars chattier, however. “It goes beyond safety,” Zaki pointed out. Connecting cars and the infrastructure can make traffic more fluid. There is a fun side to it, too. Offering cars with data-hungry features normally found in our homes, where connection speeds are much higher, will become possible – and relatively easy. At first, this will likely be limited to virtual reality-based rear seat entertainment systems, like the Experience Ride technology Audi showcased at CES 2019. Looking ahead, 5G will power the futuristic features often shown in autonomous concept cars, such as on-the-go meetings. Nissan is even using 5G to spawn in-car avatars.

Zaki downplayed the safety and security concerns many motorists have about increasing the level of connectivity in cars.

“V2X is designed to protect the privacy of each user. I know that a car is braking, but I don’t know whose car it is. I wouldn’t be able to know that you’re driving in downtown London,” he explained. His team strives to provide connectivity solutions that can be integrated in a car in a way that doesn’t distract the driver. “I would argue it’s the opposite; all of these tech features increase the safety of cars,” he concluded.


2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC coupe gets a tech upgrade, keeps quirky styling

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC coupe debuts at the 2019 New York Auto Show with an upgraded infotainment system that incorporates Mercedes' digital assistant. The SUV launches later this year with turbocharged four-cylinder power.

Mercedes-Benz gives the tech-savvy 2020 CLA more power at New York Auto Show

Mercedes-Benz introduced the second-generation CLA during CES 2019, and it will expand the lineup when it unveils a midrange model named CLA 35 at the upcoming 2019 New York Auto Show.

The 2020 Hyundai Sonata Turbo shows value and performance can go hand in hand

The 2020 Hyundai Sonata goes in a bold new design direction, with LED streaks on its hood and sleeker bodywork all around. It starkly contrasts with the current Sonata's conservative design.

Intel gives up on 5G modems for smartphones, will focus on other devices

After a delay that saw Intel's manufacture of 5G modems pushed back to 2020, Intel has given up on the 5G modem business, and will focus its efforts elsewhere. But is something else to blame?

Bored with stock? The best tuner cars are begging to be modified

Modification has been around almost as long as the automobile itself. Here are 25 of the best tuner cars you can find, ranging from American muscle standouts to Japanese drift cars.

21 charged in Chicago carsharing heist; 100+ cars stolen, many still missing

More than 100 Mercedes-Benz vehicles belonging to carsharing service Car2Go were stolen in Chicago. Police are still working to recover all of the cars, which are equipped with GPS, and 21 people have been charged.

The VR goggles you wear to shoot alien ships is helping Magna design car parts

Canadian automotive supplier Magna has started using virtual reality in its research and development department. The technology helps engineers get a better view of what they're working on, whether it's an interior part or a powertrain.

From rugged wagons to hot sports cars, the 2019 NY Auto Show brought it all

From city cars to supercars, anything goes at the New York Auto Show. Automakers from all over the globe traveled to the 2019 show to unveil their newest concept cars and production models.

Toyota leads $1 billion investment in Uber’s self-driving tech division

In a move that has been a long time coming, Uber filed its S-1 documents, which sets the stage for the company to finally go public with an initial public offering. The company could be valued at more than $100 billion.
Digital Trends Live

Digital Trends Live: Samsung Galaxy Fold woes, zombie pigs, and more

Today's topics: Samsung Galaxy Fold, Facebook A.I. voice assistants, YouTube comes to Fire TV, facial recognition on airline flights, the SpaceX DART program, Yale's zombie pigs, and much more!

Electric car buying guide: What you need to know before you buy

EVs are better than they've ever been, but buying your first battery-powered car can be an intimidating experience. Digital Trends has compiled a comprehensive guide that walks you through the process of buying an EV.

Carbuying can be tiring: Here are the best used car websites to make it easier

Shopping for a used car isn't easy, especially when the salesman is looking to make a quick sale. Thankfully, there are plenty of sites aimed at the prospective buyer, whether you're looking for a sedan or a newfangled hybrid.

Apple’s interest in self-driving cars reported to be revving up

A new report suggests that Apple is in talks with a number of suppliers to purchase lidar sensors, an essential tool for self-driving cars. The news is once again spiking rumors that Apple might be building vehicles.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Robots that eat landmines and clean your floors

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it's fun to gawk!