Volvo, the Sweedish automaker, has partnered with telecom provider China Unicom, in lieu of wanting to integrate a 5G network inside its upcoming cars. The automaker will use this opportunity to research, develop and test automotive applications of 5G; the two companies will also explore vehicle-to-everything (V2X) technology, where a vehicle can communicate with other 5G-enabled devices and China’s infrastructure.
For those unaware, 5G is a lot faster than 4G or anything prior; it has a higher data capacity and offers lower response times, which means data can flow seamlessly to and from a vehicle. This opens up a lot of new possibilities for in-car systems – from safety to entertainment – 5G can act as an enabler. Harman, the American audio company, showcased the power that 5G holds at CES earlier this year.
“Volvo has been a leader in realising the potential of connecting our cars to enable new features and services such as detecting and sharing locations of slippery roads between vehicles,” said Henrik Green, Chief Technology Officer at Volvo Cars. “With 5G, the network performance is improving to allow for many more real-time critical services that can help the driver be safer and get a smoother and more enjoyable ride. We look forward to collaborating with China Unicom on developing those services for the Chinese market.”
Both companies will be looking at ways to enable and roll out 5G connectivity to a vehicle, namely in the way an EV can communicate with the Chinese infrastructure. Given China Unicom’s pedigree in the industry and knowledge of the local market, it’s a perfect partnership for Volvo to explore and penetrate a country that holds the largest car market in the world. There were over 88 million car sales in 2019, over 23% of those sales took place in China.
Mr. Liang Baojun, Vice President of China Unicom Group, said: “As an innovation leader in the 5G area, China Unicom is committed to create new information infrastructure and solutions in the area of intelligent internet connection with the best experience to the users. 5G will fully enable the development of automatic driving, improve the safety of driving and bring a new experience by building a collaborative service system of ‘people, vehicles, roadway, network and cloud’. It is believed that China Unicom and Volvo Cars will sincerely cooperate with each other, jointly develop a business deployment route under China’s national conditions, which is believed to become an industry model in China.”
In 2020, China is looking to roll out 5G to major cities across the nation; the country is widely expected to implement its own rules and regulations with the new 5G standard. Manufactures will most likely have to adopt different techniques in China for V2X technologies, versus what they’ll have to adhere to in other parts of the world.
As such, the partnership with a local ‘expert’ makes for an easier integration for upcoming Volvo vehicles. The next-gen Volvos will be based on the SPA2 modular vehicle architecture and will have 5G as a core part of the vehicle’s technology.