From Tesla and Uber to Google and Apple, advancements in autonomous vehicle technologies inspires both excitement for a more efficient future and concerns over passenger and pedestrian safety. Often, the debate in the mass media centers around how cars can be better programmed to make split-second decisions that create the safest possible results for both the occupant(s) and others on the road. But this debate overlooks a key, fundamental component – the network infrastructure needed to coordinate and manage roads filled with autonomous vehicles.
So, what are the challenges facing today’s network infrastructure? We’ve divided the issues into two broad categories: the exponential growth of data traffic and the limitations of current high frequency communications technologies.
- Exponential Growth of Data Traffic
IHS Markit forecasts that 51,000 autonomous vehicles will be sold globally by 2021. However, by 2040, this number is set to grow exponentially to a total of over 33 million vehicles. If there’s one thing next-generation wireless communications for vehicular systems will have to handle well, it’s a diversity of data traffic types.
For example, passenger and pedestrian safety will require high-priority low latency signaling for advanced vehicle automation. At the same time, lower priority in-vehicle entertainment and passenger communications will increase to extremely high system throughput levels. In short, vehicular wireless networks of the future will have to support these competing forms of traffic for a very large number of mobile platforms all while delivering high rates of speed.
- Limitations of Current High Frequency Communications Technologies
Many automotive manufacturers and telecommunications experts are already awaiting 5G network rollouts to supply the ultra-high capacity and broadband speeds needed to power vehicle-to-everything communications. After all, 5G networks offer a 1,000-fold gain in capacity over current 4G technologies. However, carriers and network operators still face a significant challenge in overcoming the shorter transmission rates of the high Gigahertz (GHz) bands that 5G communications will rely on. Current analog and digital beamforming technologies are not suitable to handle the demanding requirements of autonomous vehicle communications.
From a simplified perspective, autonomous vehicles are moving targets that require algorithms to track them as they traverse a network space. As a result, the higher data rate systems they necessitate also require higher carrier frequencies, which naturally have higher transmission loss. To compensate for this, cell density must increase to maintain coverage across the network. Unfortunately, handover between cells becomes a large problem as the cell density increases. As a result, vehicles moving in and out of these smaller cells at high velocities can run the risk of compounding network registration and traffic issues.
Fortunately, Veluxsys is providing a game-changing communications solution that will go a long way towards creating the networks autonomous vehicles need.
A Future with Veluxsys
Next generation wireless networks for vehicular communications will need to supply large amounts of continuous data, support safety-critical low latency traffic, be able to track many fast-moving vehicles in very dynamic conditions and be efficient in cell-to-cell hand-off – all while maintaining a strict quality of service. Fortunately, Veluxsys is already a first-mover in addressing this challenge.
Our team of experts is combining Radio-over-fiber (RFoF) technology with integrated photonics and photonically-distributed antennas to create a whole new type of radio-to-multiple-antenna system that will revolutionize the telecommunications landscape. When our product is finalized, carriers and network operators will finally be able to establish cost-effective, flexible 5G network architectures that will meet their bandwidth and geographic coverage demands. By turning to the optical domain, we are eliminating the need for digital to analog signal conversion, allowing for more efficient and cost-effective network capabilities, including:
- Advancements in performance over traditional mmWave RF and antenna solutions
- 1 to N radio configurations that enable extended range of service and reliability, well-suited to the mobile nature of autonomous vehicles
- Utilization of open standards and interfaces to allow for a multi-vendor, agile and highly extensible deployment