Autonomous and connected cars were spotlighted at this year's Mobile World Congress. With 44 million of these vehicles expected to hit the road by 2030, tech companies such as Nokia Networks and Qualcomm are joining car manufacturers to roll out state-of-the-art features.
Google, Tesla And Apple Race For Electric, Autonomous Vehicle Talent
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BARCELONA -- Mobile World Congress is widely regarded as the tech event where smartphone manufacturers and telecom carriers gather to show off the latest devices and innovations in networking, communications, and mobile hardware. This year, however, the connected car and all that comes with it made a significant splash at the show, with many people predicting that in less than 15 years, these vehicles will be commonplace.
By 2030 there could be as many as 44 million autonomous and connected cars on public streets and highways, according to GSMA, the group that organizes MWC. At the show this year, analysts predict that connected and automated vehicles will make a huge economic impact, with the market hitting its stride between 2030 and 2035.
However, signs of the future are already here. In Europe, for example, new laws are mandating connectivity in all new cars and light vans starting in March 2018. In addition, vehicles must be equipped with "eCall," an emergency notification system, which is part of a European Commission initiative. The goal is to help drivers, police, and emergency workers respond more rapidly to car accidents.
Additionally, the connected car is creating new jobs across the automotive industry. The vehicles promise social benefits, such as increased fuel-efficiency, lower environmental impact, a reduction in traffic congestion, and a higher level of comfort for drivers.
The Race for Connectivity
At MWC, carriers and car companies were eager to show off the future today.
Nokia Networks aims to enable autonomous driving through its 5G, ultra-low latency network. The technology offers connectivity for fast-moving autonomous systems, which require constant and virtually uninterrupted communication flow to improve road safety and reduce congestion.
"The network can guarantee that the traffic as a whole flows seamlessly; this is something you won't achieve if you put just sensors in the car," Volker Held, head of innovation marketing at Nokia Networks, told InformationWeek.
Recently, Nokia had a successful live trial of its 5G technology at the A9 high-speed motorway in Germany.
"The cloud server gets the position, direction, and speed of the cars. All the functions are virtualized using NFV technologies," said Rainer Liebhart, research project manager at Nokia Networks. Liebhart added that the autonomous driving low-latency application was developed with the help of two universities in Budapest and Dresden.
Fully Autonomous Car of the future
Qualcomm and Mercedes-Benz have partnered to bring life to the 2016 Mercedes F 015 self-driving car. A fully functional autonomous luxury car, this Mercedes could reach the market by 2017, but don't expect to see parking lots full of them until at least 2030.
The Mercedes F 015 exterior is designed with cutting-edge technology. Powered by hydrogen fuel cells, it features rear-hinged doors that open up and outwards to 90 degrees, 26-inch alloy wheels, and aluminum-encased windows.
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This masterpiece of engineering combines the best state-of-the-art technology with an impeccable stylish and classy aesthetic design.
The interior is a mixture of white Nappa natural leather, timber, glass, and metal. Six high-resolution display screens have been incorporated into the rear and side panels, which can be controlled through touch, gesture command, and eye tracking. Advertised by the German automaker as "The best, or nothing," this is the best autonomous car at MWC, without a doubt.
Accelerating the Future
"The car of the future will be always connected," said Derek Aberle, president of Qualcomm Inc., during his keynote on autonomous cars at MWC. He was later joined by Lewis Hamilton, driver at Mercedes AMG Petronas, and Paddy Lowe, technical executive director at Mercedes AMG Petronas, for a panel discussion about the future of connected cars.
About two-thirds of the cars sold in 2015 have Bluetooth inside, said Aberle. "A cellular LTE connectivity is becoming more and more prevalent, WiFi within the car has been embedded like mobile hot-spots within the vehicle, 3D navigation, real-time traffic, things like remote diagnostic and self-diagnostic, LTE is already enabling connections from the cloud to the vehicle, and Bluetooth allows your car to interact with your devices in the car," said Aberle. "In the future, the car is going to be connected to everything."
Indeed, cars will be able to communicate with other cars, with pedestrians, and with the infrastructure. "The car will become a mobile platform," said Aberle.
Susan Fourtané is a Science & Technology journalist, writer, and philosopher with a life-long interest in science and technology -- and all things interesting.
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