The future roadmap towards self-driving cars discussed at MWC 2016
Connected and autonomous cars are among the hottest topics at the mobile telecom industry’s largest trade show
The fact that cars today are established as a truly integral part of the mobile industry’s agenda comes as no surprise to anyone who has visited the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona over the past few years. This year’s exhibition offered plenty of opportunities for visitors with an interest in automotive to satisfy their curiosity for the latest within connected car technology. Among the companies featuring vehicles as part of their exhibition booths were diverse players such as VISA, Oberthur Technologies, Vodafone, Acer, Summit and VNC Automotive, having cars on display from the vehicle manufacturers Hyundai, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Volkswagen, Abarth and Skoda respectively. Fujitsu moreover offered visitors a peek into its so-called hyperconnected can, designed to keep the workforce connected and enabling companies small and large to manage their assets in a secure and intelligent way. Nissan further showcased the latest incarnation of its own Leaf electric car, while Mercedes-Benz even had its “connected, emission-free, autonomous” F 015 Luxury in Motion research car present at the fair.

Industry stakeholders also gathered on stage to present and discuss various topics related to vehicles and the automotive industry. A session labelled “The Road to Connected and Autonomous Cars” for example featured representatives from Jasper, Porsche, Shell and Daimler. The lifecycle gap between vehicles and connected services in general was highlighted as a tricky aspect of connected cars. The future will most likely see an increasing use of over-the-air (OTA) updates enabling new functionality for existing vehicles, as well as modular vehicle architectures that may help the industry to overcome some of today’s hurdles. Porsche for example highlighted the use of OTA updates from an OEM perspective to add new features during the lifetime of vehicles. The session also touched on topics such as the upcoming eCall mandate and the general importance of security and safety in the automotive industry. On the topic of autonomous driving, 5G was portrayed as better suited to enable this type of applications, though current 4G technology will be sufficient in many cases as much of the associated analytics should be performed on-board rather than in the cloud according to Jasper. Another notable point raised by Shell was the fact that there is today a strong correlation between autonomous cars and electrification of vehicles, though the benefits of self-driving cars are by no means limited solely to electrified powertrains. Mercedes-Benz finally declared that autonomous driving and connected cars will have the same impact on mankind as the invention of the car by the company 130 years ago. Key trends alongside autonomous driving include the digitalised ecosystem, shared mobility and e-mobility/alternative drives. The winners of the automotive industry of tomorrow need to be equipped to handle all of these developments which together open up for completely new business models.

Rickard Andersson
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