5GAA discusses the role of non-terrestrial networks in the connectivity of the car of the future

Press Release 23 May. 2022

5GAA discusses the role of non-terrestrial networks in the connectivity of the car of the future

Ubiquitous connectivity is an essential prerequisite to achieving a full-scale digital transformation of the automotive sector. Connectivity challenges and how the seamless integration of terrestrial and non-terrestrial network solutions can foster high-capacity global connectivity were at the heart of the Connectivity for the Car of the Future Symposium, hosted by the 5G Automotive Association (5GAA).

Berlin (Germany), 16 May 2022. The 5G Automotive Association (5GAA) and the European Space Agency discussed the crucial role of ubiquitous connectivity and the opportunities for space technologies to offer future solutions for the automotive sector during its “Connectivity for the Car of the Future Symposium.”

Today, over 200 million connected vehicles worldwide are equipped with applications sharing hazard and traffic warnings on the road. The automotive sector is undergoing a significant transformation: from a focus on vehicle performance to a focus on a fully digital, tailor-made digital experience, and customers increasingly expect a fully connected car. Ubiquitous connectivity is an essential prerequisite to achieving a full-scale digital transformation of the automotive sector. Ensuring the network’s reliability can be a challenge, particularly in rural or remote areas that still experience no or poor band coverage, and non-terrestrial networks can have a crucial role in deploying hybrid connectivity solutions for the car of the future.

To explore the connectivity challenges and how space solutions can support the car industry in connected mobility, the 5G Automotive Association organised a Symposium in collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA). What does the future car look like? Which connectivity and business models are needed to enable? What is the place of space in the mix? These were some of the questions addressed by industry representatives of car manufacturers, connectivity providers, mobile network operators, satellite connectivity providers and decision-makers.

Satellite connectivity can complement terrestrial solutions in white spots and in case of outages and congestion. In this sense, Europe must accelerate the development of assets and capacities in this field to compete globally, provide the appropriate solutions for the automotive sector and fill in any potential gaps. Therefore, it is essential to ensure that all the stakeholders and their respective innovative roadmaps are aligned, as highlighted by Joseph Aschbacher, Director-General of ESA, in his welcome messagefor the event. As such, the car industry will be able to make the most of cutting-edge developments in the connectivity domain.

“We are pleased to collaborate with 5GAA to promote and build the connected car ecosystem of the future. Vehicles are rapidly becoming fully connected devices and drive investments into new-generation connectivity. Satellites and space-based technologies are key assets to complete terrestrial networks, build smart and hybrid systems and offer ubiquitous, secure, and sustainable connectivity. We look forward to continuing this intense exchange with the automotive value chain to join forces and build a truly European connected car architecture,” added Elodie Viau, Director, Telecommunications and Integrated Applications Directorate, ESA.

During the Symposium, car manufacturers and tier-1 suppliers discussed the mobility-related technology innovations, opportunities, requirements, and challenges, highlighting the crucial role of ubiquitous connectivity for the automotive sector and the increasing number of use-cases already developed by the automotive industry for both private and commercial vehicles.

Including non-terrestrial connectivity in the mix will bring many benefits, such as extending high connectivity to rural areas at a comparatively low cost and enabling digital services and autonomous driving applications. However, space solutions need to be integrated with the existing terrestrial solutions, as they will not replace them. In addition, the seamless integration of antennas technology on the car, and the smooth handover between the networks, are just some of the challenges that still need to be addressed. Therefore, speakers pointed out that these solutions need to be included in the 3GPP standardisation system, which is currently the integrational connectivity path, defining the terrestrial connectivity requirements.

Finally, all the stakeholders engaged in a lively discussion to map how the whole ecosystem can work together to address the connectivity challenges and develop targeted R&D, demonstrators and pilots and expand them into mature business models and strategic partnerships. Indeed, to enable cross-border coordination and integration of terrestrial and satellite connectivity solutions, the cooperation and alignment of various players and investments will be essential. In this area, ESA aims to provide the European automotive sector with the necessary support and expertise to maximise its positive social, economic and environmental impact and develop competitive car connectivity solutions.

“Use cases and requirements are already there, and ubiquitous connectivity will enable their full-scale deployment. Satellite solutions can play a crucial role in achieving this,” concluded Johannes Springer, Director General, 5GAA. “It is crucial to ensure the greatest alignment and cooperation between all the stakeholders involved. Let’s continue working together to bring the 3GPP standards to the satellite solutions and seamlessly integrate them with the terrestrial networks to provide solutions for the car of the future.”

Below the presentations showcased during the first session of the event:

Andreas Schaller, V2X Technology Strategy, Robert Bosch Mobility Solutions

Olaf Eckart, Senior Expert Cooperations R&D, Industry Customers, BMW

Jörg Plechinger, Head of Mobile Connectivity Plattform / Car2X,  AUDI AG

Susanne Schulz, Head of Department Cooperative, Connected and Automated Mobility,  Autobahn GmbH