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On Driving as Surfing

On Driving as Surfing
by Roger C. Lanctot on 04-21-2016 at 4:00 pm

 Driving a car is increasingly like surfing the Web. The day will soon arrive when highway on-ramps are equipped with signs asking you to accept cookies. Those drivers refusing to accept cookies may be diverted. At the very least, they will have an inferior driving experience.

How can this be? The answer lies in Huawei’s presentation of CloudRAN at its Global Analyst Summit HAS 2016 this week. CloudRAN is the proverbial sausage factory behind the emerging Internet of Things.

CloudRAN is the underlying network architecture Huawei is putting in place to support the collection, aggregation and interpretation of data from disparate sources to, in turn, infuse emerging IoT applications. Huawei’s vision for its radio access network embraces the benefits of cloud to allow operators to transform their networks into unified platforms allowing interoperability between multiple networks capable of integrating diverse access technologies such as 3G, 4G, 4.5G and 5G along with radio technologies in unlicensed spectrum, such as WiFi.

At the same time, this unified network architecture will support an array of services with different performance requirements on data rate, connectivity, and latency in the mobile network. And finally, fast and flexible capacity expansion on this unified network architecture will open new business models to achieve fast delivery for different end users. This network unification is made possible by Huawei CloudRAN.

Huawei’s vision is relevant to the automotive industry because wireless carriers are uniquely positioned to support this layered connectivity experience already emerging along highways around the world. Cameras, loop sensors, radars, thermal sensors, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi sensing equipment which have historically gathered data independently are now seeing unique aggregation and interpretation efforts intended to aid traffic management and improve communication with drivers.

In China, cities like Shanghai have opened up their troves of sensor data to service providers to enable new applications. The wireless carriers increasingly serve as the conduits for both collecting and distributing the relevant information.

It is because of this widespread and expanding data gathering activity that the EU’s privacy directive, released last week, was such an important event. The directive, expected to take effect in two years, is intended to provide a more uniform regime governing European privacy protection and clarifying a key element underpinning connected cars, smart cities and all of the related applications.

http://tinyurl.com/zz2oy7n – New EU Data Protection Laws Finalised after Vote – Out-law.com – Pinsent Mason

Point solutions like speed detection or license plate reading are being combined to create new products and services which, in turn, are being packaged for wireless delivery to drivers either over the air via cellular (as in the case of BMW and Enlighten) or via connected smartphones. This aggregation of these sensor inputs is laying the groundwork for a browser-like experience on the highway for drivers. Suddenly the same privacy concerns governing Web surfing have relevance to driving.

The increasingly browser-like experience of driving will lead to drivers seeing in-dash or roadside signs with personalized messages, advertising or alerts (“Slow down!” “Starbucks?” “Look out!” “Check your tire pressure.”) – unless we opt out, if we are able. The proliferation of cameras, sensors and wireless connections along the highway and in and on the average car means a “privacy mode” along the highway is increasingly impossible to achieve.
The aggregation of sensor inputs along with wireless network signaling is enabling the communication of contextually relevant and critical information to drivers in real time. Car companies have yet to fully embrace this reality, but they ignore it at their peril and to the disadvantage of their customers.

Even wireless carriers have not completely come to grips with the emerging driving-as-browsing experience. European wireless carriers resisted the EU’s implementation of the eCall mandate (for OnStar-like automatic crash notification). That resistance led to the GSMA creating the dormant SIM standard allowing cars to be more or less “off the grid” unless they collided.

In retrospect, these carriers now realize the folly of their dormant SIM. In an IoT world, live position-signaling wireless devices in cars will be more valuable for carriers and car companies than dormant devices.

The emerging driving-as-browsing experience will be aided by but independent of in-dash apps. It will be a cloud-based experience and the drivers having the best, safest, fastest and most fuel-efficient experience will be those that are sharing their vehicle sensor data with the cloud most likely with the help of a built-in system from their auto maker.

Cellular-based communications to cars supported by inputs from roadside detection systems and critical infrastructure systems for tolling and traffic control will be able to transmit dynamic speed and tolling information, routing guidance, traffic and road hazard alerts and even notices of infractions or potential infractions in a distraction-free manner. The wireless networks that will enable this experience will be 4G, 4.5G and 5G, some of which are already in place and enabling these experiences (BMW!).

Huawei’s vision, which will roll out over the next five years in advance and in support of 5G deployments once standards for 5G are finalized, will be “a new network architecture with full flexibility from topology to resource distribution that can meet the multiple requirements of things to things, people to things, and people to people communication.”

This CloudRAN vision was the most compelling proposition presented during HAS 2016. It is a vision shared by Huawei’s competitors, and one which will soon insinuate itself into dashboards and onto windscreens around the world.

Roger C. Lanctot is Associate Director in the Global Automotive Practice at Strategy Analytics. More details about Strategy Analytics can be found here: https://www.strategyanalytics.com/access-services/automotive#.VuGdXfkrKUk

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