Google’s Self-Driving Car – A Lot of Future Tech

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3Q 2016 | IN-4204

Google’s Self-Driving Car is really a Software-Defined Car or maybe a Sensor-Defined Car, as it is the software and sensors that define the essence of the vehicle. Google held a public “show and tell” display of two of its tricked-out, self-driving Lexus RX 450h vehicles, with the RADAR and LIDAR sensors for all to see. Seeing and hearing they did, as dozens of Google employees were on hand to talk up the program and facilitate the indoor demonstrations of LIDAR up close and personal. The automotive news points to a bright future for autonomous vehicles, and perhaps the biggest benefits arriving with 5G enabled cooperative mobility.

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Google’s Self-Driving Car – Up Close and Friendly


On August 13, Google held an “open house” in Chandler Arizona featuring a pair of its tricked-out, self-driving Lexus RX 450h vehicles. The Google SDC is in next phase of road testing, and Phoenix, Arizona is one of several metropolitan areas for this next phase in development. The vehicles were on display, accompanied by dozens of Google employees present for Q&A, and demonstrations of the company’s LiDAR.

Tech Everywhere


Google Self-Driving Car

The Google SDC is jam-packed full of electronics, computers, and sensors, as shown in the photo below. Visible are the RADAR and LIDAR units mounted on the top, front, and sides of the vehicle. There is also a LIDAR unit at the rear of the vehicle. Sorry, no test drives at this time. The autonomous vehicle market (see ABI Research’s Automotive, Smart Mobility & Transportation Sector) is showing great potential as a growing market for technology now that PCs and Smartphones are mature markets. The autonomous vehicles will include more computing power to manage and interpret the RADAR and LIDAR sensors, communicate with the Googleplex in 4G and soon 5G. You can also expect them to include powerful Machine Learning capabilities to make sense of all the data, and benefit from a market wide collection of data that Google then trains in the cloud.

What about 5G?


The market and technology will evolve over time, and the initial waves of autonomous vehicles will have 4G connectivity, but will likely not include cooperative mobility, and certainly not remote controlled. Vehicles will have the capability to operate safely and securely without a network connection, though without connectivity; some functionality will be impaired (TBD) as operation must continue safely with a fall-back mode. As autonomous driving technology improves and penetrates throughout the 5G networks and vehicles, society will gain the benefits that come with the coordinated interactions of all the traffic on the road. Described by ITU as critical Machine Type Communication, cMTC will leverage the low latency of 5G and unify connectivity among autonomous vehicles. In addition to the anticipated cloud services and broadband multimedia, the cooperative mobility from V2X (vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure) communication will radically change transportation in the future.

5G is not really required for the baseline autonomous vehicles, but the lure of what industry will deliver with cooperative mobility (over time, of course) will accelerate demand. And responding to that demand, industry will move those technologies down the cost learning curve for mass market penetration. That cost learning and cooperative mobility that will come by way of 5G will change transportation forever.

By 2025, 67 million automotive 5G vehicle subscriptions will be active - three million of which will be low latency connections mainly deployed in autonomous and driverless cars. You can find more detail in ABI Research’s Automotive Safety and Autonomous Driving Service, Smart Transportation Service, and LTE Diversity and 5G Service which include research reports, market data, insights, and competitive assessments.

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