There are few topics as exciting as what the future of transportation will look like in the next five to 10 years. With 5G and connected, autonomous cars, everything from industry supply chains and vehicle ownership to the daily commute and in-vehicle experiences are poised to fundamentally transform. This smart, connected future will make roads safer, travel more productive and entertaining, and most importantly, dramatically improve how we move goods and people around the world. The question is, how?
The case for CASE mobility
One useful framework for looking at how the future of transportation will evolve is called “CASE,” which stands for Connected, Autonomous, Shared, and Electric. The CASE mobility model helps outline the key technological advancements that are impacting automotive innovation, consumer demand, and our transportation infrastructure.
Each of these areas is unique and also significant in their own way. But whether we’re looking at carsharing, self-driving cars, or electric vehicles, the foundation for this evolving ecosystem essentially boils down to data. Data will fuel the future of transportation.
At T-Mobile, we’re helping build the connected infrastructure that the automotive industry will need to move data and realize this vision for the future—connected and autonomous vehicles on a nationwide 5G network. In this two-part series, we’ll take a deeper look at not only the role of data across these critical areas of transformation, but how 5G and T-Mobile will be key to unlocking the true value of that data every mile along the way. Buckle up.
Today’s connectivity ecosystem
If data is key to the future of transportation, then our first stop should be the C in CASE—we need to understand just how this growing connectivity ecosystem provides a foundation for data and the rest of the CASE framework.
Today’s average vehicle is essentially a 4,000-pound connected device. Not only do we have to account for device-level connectivity concerns—security, speed, usability, and data exchange—we must also deal with the need for bandwidth, latency, and of course safety.
To drive this point home, let’s look at how connectivity enables all the technologies and services that surround the automotive space today. Specifically, let’s bridge to the rest of the CASE framework: Autonomous, Electric, and Shared.
Autonomous but interdependent
The potential of connected and autonomous vehicles is enormous, but that potential still hinges on the development and adoption of several key technologies and standards.
For example, industry leaders continue to make headway developing the capabilities needed for autonomous vehicles to interact with the surrounding environment. This requires technologies like LiDAR and computer vision, but also a reliable communications standard.
One promising approach is a “vehicle-to-everything,” cellular communications standard called C-V2X, which can enable a vehicle to seamlessly communicate with the cellular network, other vehicles, roadside infrastructure, and even pedestrians in real time. While some C-V2X capabilities are compatible with existing LTE cellular networks, the two-way communications requirements of C-V2X’s expanded feature-set will require the security, resiliency, high-speed data transfer speeds, and ultra-low latency of 5G network infrastructure.
Shared is probably the least understood pillar, but it presents the most near-team utility for consumers and businesses.
One illustrative example is the booming carsharing economy. Car ownership continues to drop every year—a trend that accelerated during the pandemic—but that doesn’t mean the majority people in urban areas don’t rely on some form of passenger vehicle transportation. Consumers and businesses are just turning to fleet operators and on-demand carsharing services that offer more convenience while reducing costs, congestion, and carbon emissions.
As part of the connected vehicle future, carsharing ecosystems will need robust, high-speed, and widely available 5G networks to support the data deluge that will arise from mobile apps and connected vehicles all communicating in real time, at scale. And that doesn’t even touch on the fact that many of these carsharing vehicles will also be autonomous, or the outstanding connectivity requirements of tomorrow’s smart cities and their shared intelligent transportation systems.
Electric and optimized
Electric vehicles (EVs) may not immediately seem to be related to connectivity and data, but in fact they are basically “computers on wheels.” They’re much more software-defined than legacy internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles and in turn require a regular cadence of over-the-air (OTA) software and firmware updates. These updates play a much larger role throughout the lifecycle of the vehicle, from optimizing performance to enabling entirely new features.
In addition, EVs increasingly underpin global supply chains and delivery routes, which depend on strong telematics data. High-speed wireless networks built to 5G New Radio (NR) standards will be used to make these fleets safer and more efficient, supporting optimal routing, inventory and shipping logistics, vehicle operations management, and predictive maintenance. By addressing EV charging stations and technician retraining, it’s expected that fleet electrification will rapidly accelerate in the coming years.
Finding the right partner
This is all just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the potential the future of transportation holds. Industry leaders like T-Mobile are providing the necessary nationwide 5G network, but it will take strong alignment with OEMs and Tier 1 providers to ensure we’re creating the ecosystem needed for this seamless, connected future. We’re looking forward to being that strategic partner and discovering how our society’s future changes (and improves) with connected and autonomous cars.
For connected cars, nationwide coverage is essential for the connectivity to provide safety, security, and basic functionality wherever a driver may be at any given moment. To learn more about connected car solutions and the nation’s largest 5G network, visit T-Mobile for Business.
Hopefully you’re as excited as we are about the future of automotive mobility. As we highlighted, while connectivity and new wireless technology like 5G will play a foundational role, it’s data that will fuel the future of automotive mobility. The management of this data will require more than just technology—it will require a global ecosystem working together. In part two of this series, we’ll dive into what’s truly going to be needed to orchestrate the data economy of the future.
5G: Capable device required; coverage not available in some areas. Some uses may require certain plan or feature; see T-Mobile.com.