Michelle Donegan is a tech writer who has covered the communications industry for more than 25 years on both sides of the pond. Having worked for various industry titles, including Communications Week International, Total Telecom and Light Reading, she specializes in mobile network technology trends.
At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last week, Samsung introduced a 5G telematics control unit (TCU) and announced that BMW’s iNext will be the first car with Samsung’s 5G technology onboard from 2021.
The news marks the latest fruition of the long-time partnership between BMW Group, Samsung and its wholly owned subsidiary Harman.
BMW plans to roll out the iNext car in 2021, which the company describes as “fully electric, fully connected and offers highly autonomous driving.” Now we know the connectivity part will feature 5G technology from Samsung and Harman.
Samsung’s 5G TCU connects the car’s onboard electronics systems with external networks to provide real-time information to drivers, such as HD maps or Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X) apps that deliver risk assessments and blind spot alerts to drivers.
- Useful read: 5G and the Connected Car
The TCU features multi-band conformal antenna technology developed by Harman that packs multiple antennas into one unit that can be mounted under the car’s body panels. This new antenna design will replace the traditional external “shark-fin” antennas.
Accelerating Connected Cars
Connected cars shouldn’t be confused with autonomous cars. The concept of 5G-powered fully self-driving cars is far from becoming reality. Today, vehicles equipped with wireless connectivity are used for fleet management, predictive vehicle maintenance, and sending software upgrades to onboard electronics systems. Data collected vehicles helps manufacturers design better products while data from roadside sensors is used to improve traffic management.
As 5G is expected in future to deliver lower latency, higher reliability and large-scale device connectivity, the technology will support more connected car apps as well as potentially bring autonomous driving closer to reality.
Young Sohn, Corporate President and Chief Strategy Officer for Samsung Electronics and Chairman of the Board for HARMAN, said: “5G’s low latency, massive density, device awareness, and super-fast download speeds enable new capabilities and experiences critical for autonomous driving systems of this decade. We look forward to our close partnership with BMW to bring Samsung’s 5G TCU technology delivered to its next generation of cars and provide the ultimate driving experience.”
- Useful read: What is 5G?