Press coverage

Autonomous vehicles technology: telecoms versus carmakers in race to get connected

A fierce debate has gripped Europe's automobile industry that will shape the future of all cars sold across the region: how to get internet-connected vehicles to "talk" to each other while travelling on the road.

It centres on two competing technologies that has broadly split the continent's carmakers and telecoms providers into rival camps — and has even pitted two branches of the European Commission against each other.

Carmakers largely favour a short range technology using a dedicated band of spectrum or radio frequencies for car-to-car communication. This vehicle-to-vehicle system, or V2V, will be ready for operation once network equipment is built, which could be carried out relatively quickly.

This layer of technology would allow cars to drive much closer together on the roads, synchronising braking to avoid accidents.

The telecoms companies, in contrast, are backing an open, long-range cellular system, which allows cars to share the airwaves with mobile phone signals. This will take longer to develop than V2V as it will have to wait for 5G, the next generation of mobile technology that is not expected to be rolled out globally until 2020.

The strongest argument for the cellular system, according to Analysys Mason analyst Tom Rebbeck, is that it can improve the overall transport system using its longer range by managing traffic lights and reducing congestion across a city rather than just be used for individual vehicles.

In essence, with the cellular system, chips can be installed in road networks and traffic lights, so that cars can communicate with the world around them at much greater distances. This allows them to "see" conditions not visible with traditional cameras or sensors.

To read the full FT article  click here.