The race to autonomy is well underway—a statement both incumbents and startups can agree on. The process and order wherein autonomous vehicles will become a reality, however, is a bit more fluid, though nevertheless reliant on two critical factors: connectivity and experience.

As connectivity evolves, so does the user experience; and understanding both, it’s increasingly important to process and access data in real-time. It’s because of this emphasis on real-time that we’re starting to see a convergence of players and partnerships in the space—and will continue to see a convergence of players across technology, automotive and policy. In other words, this transformation is ripe, whether you sit in Detroit or Silicon Valley (though arguably more tangible if you have a little of both). 

How is connectivity evolving?

No longer does connectivity solely mean transporting data from the inside of the car to the outside world; it now encompasses vehicle to vehicle communication (V2V) and vehicle to everything connectivity and communication (V2X), including wireless and cellular access networks, security and authentication. Here at HARMAN, we’re working alongside Samsung to leverage our deep expertise in high speed connectivity and telematics to bring 5G and V2X to the forefront of adoption of next-generation connected cars.

How will 5G technology unlock the power of V2X communication?

Let’s imagine the commute from the home to the office. 5G will have an impact from the moment you sit in the driver’s seat. First, your vehicle will already know where you’re going based on analysis of historical data. It’s a Monday at 8:15AM—you must be going to work. Next, your route will no longer be determined by traffic reports and accidents; it will be dictated by the cars and trucks already on the road talking to one another via V2V connectivity. 5G will alert drivers of critical traffic situations well beyond the range of current production sensors, allowing drivers to “see” around corners—not to mention in 3D. The shared sensor across vehicles via V2X communication, in combination with 5G wireless technology, will allow for information to be shared faster than ever.

The 5G and V2X opportunity isn’t limited vehicles talking to vehicles—V2X encompasses “everything,” after all. The potential of both will also be realized in how alerts will be delivered to vehicles via surrounding infrastructure, such as traffic lights and signage. It’s in this regard that Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS)—think radar or cameras—will also increase the capacity to perform and inform. Messages will notify drivers of more than just accidents and traffic jams; they will have the capacity to include blind-intersection collisions, road condition hazards, road works, presence of emergency vehicles, stationary or slow-moving vehicles, traffic jams and accident warnings, as well as traffic signals or signage indicators.

As capabilities in safety and entertainment expand and interact, its vital that the user experience is not compromised. For an automaker, it is equally important to underscore the user experience without driving up costs for multiple solutions. HARMAN’s Digital Cockpit platform addresses these challenges and drives various functions within the car, including the center displays and infotainment, instrumentation cluster, ADAS, audio and sound management, lighting, e-mirrors, navigation, drive assist, and even an intelligent personal assistant.

At HARMAN, we embrace the notion the connected vehicle demands unparalleled connectivity and experience. While our heritage in connectivity can be traced to infotainment, our current and future technology initiatives, alongside Samsung, differentiate us as a tier one supplier of improved safety, comfort and convenience.

And this, ultimately, will pave our way to autonomous driving.