What can 5G can deliver for the connected car?

As we move closer towards autonomous vehicles, our cars will need to be fitted with a range of sensors designed to substitute the eyes, ears, tactile senses and situational awareness of the human driver. All these sensors will generate massive amounts of data that need to be communicated to other vehicles and the road infrastructure network.

The vehicle will also need to process a huge amount of incoming data assimilated from other vehicles, road sensors and the cloud. This data must be communicated in real time to allow vehicles to make the split-second decisions that will ensure passenger safety, says Vishnu Sundaram, VP, Telematics Business Unit, HARMAN International.

The need for speed

Research by Gartner suggests there will be 60 million connected cars by 2020, rising to 220 million over the next four years, which will require bandwidth exceeding 1 Gbps for consistent and reliable user experience. A shift is needed from the network’s capacity to handle devices, to the data which will be generated – its technical requirements will necessitate a move from 4G to 5G. 5G field trials have demonstrated data speeds of more than 70Gbps and 5G is expected to offer latency levels between 10 and 50 times lower than 4G. All that with a capacity that is 1,000 times higher.

What 5G will bring to the consumer?

5G will support the development of telematics to improve safety, traffic management and in-car augmented reality. HARMAN is developing 5G-enabled products to allow vehicles to share information in real time from smart city command centres and emergency recovery teams, but 5G will offer more, including traffic management, road safety and entertainment.


According to a recent study, UK drivers spend a day every year stuck in rush-hour traffic, rising to three days for London traffic. The overall cost per driver, including wasted fuel and working time, has been calculated at £1,168 (€1323.23).

5G will enable next generation telematic solutions such as:

  • optimised-speed advice at traffic lights, which tells the driver to adjust their speed to avoid halts and the build-up of traffic at intersections.
  • help with signal violation and signage, which alerts the driver if the vehicle is set to violate a traffic signal or warn drivers of temporary changes to speed limits for road maintenance.
  • emergency trajectory alignment lets vehicles near accidents share geographic information with other vehicles and infrastructure for greater situational awareness and to re-calculate routes to reduce congestion.

Receiving such data, well ahead of line of sight, will improve vehicles’ efficiency and save time, promoting a more relaxed driving environment.

Road safety

According to Thatcham Research, 15,000 people are killed or seriously injured on UK roads every year. Connected car systems with 5G will enable data sharing to improve the effectiveness of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS). Examples include warnings of collisions, emergency braking and even abnormal vehicle warnings if the car or another vehicle is operating outside normal parameters.

Future ADAS systems, which will only be possible with 5G, could include: warnings about loss of control due to wet, snowy and icy conditions; a driver falling asleep at the wheel can lead to a loss of braking and steering; ‘Do not pass’ warnings tell the driver when they cannot overtake safely; while vulnerable road user warnings will notify drivers of potential risks.

Vishnu Sundaram

5G will bring science fiction to life: augmented reality will mean drivers can ‘see through’ a large vehicle in front, leveraging real-time video and navigation systems to ‘show’ drivers the road ahead and assist in overtaking.


5G can help to entertain us and improve convenience. With 5G, front and rear seat passengers can enjoy the next generation of connected immersive experiences, video streaming or online gaming. For convenience, 5G will constantly monitor fuel levels, taking into consideration the destination and traffic levels.

The technology could improve remote vehicle analytics to diagnose real-time vehicle issues and collect anonymous data about vehicles’ performance to better understand usage. Ultra-reliable connectivity would ensure over the air software updates, avoiding disruptive visits to the dealer.


The introduction of 5G will not only boost the automotive systems, but could help future-proof the next generation of autonomous vehicles. Only through the use of advanced data networks can we process and share information to enable our vehicles to take the correct and safe action.

The author of this blog is Vishnu Sundaram, VP, Telematics Business Unit, HARMAN International

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