I see a lot of ads for 5G cellular capability these days, promising lightning-fast downloads, crystal clear music and 4K video streaming. Already poised to transform the consumer cellular market, 5G will also have a significant impact on a product many of us interact with daily: our vehicles. We estimate the automotive 5G 2025 market size to be $2B growing to $5B by 2030.
Over the last several years, vehicles have transformed into sophisticated computers on wheels, providing driver assistance functions, high-quality graphics for digital cockpit and infotainment displays, and, through 4G connectivity, real-time traffic, weather and the ability to order our favorite foods or pay for gas. 5G will transform our vehicle experience even further.
With 5G comes the opportunity of vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communication. As infrastructure advances, cars will communicate with traffic lights, talk to toll booths everywhere across the country, see vulnerable road users in blind spots and communicate with other cars, alerting drivers when another car intends to change lanes or is about to run a red light. 5G also delivers much faster speed and lower latency, enabling new applications. For example, passengers will share a single Wi-Fi hotspot to enjoy cinema-quality video. Semi-trucks will be able to form autonomous caravans where one driver controls many trucks.
This isn’t a sci-fi movie. It’s on the horizon, and Lear is ready, with an advanced 5G V2X telecommunications solution equipped with the latest advanced connectivity technology.
Although the automotive industry has been preparing for 5G for some time, there are still technical challenges to overcome before widespread deployment. One of these challenges we began to address 18 months ago focused on the wide variety of communication technologies (cellular, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, satellite radio and in-vehicle navigation) that exist, but the single shark fin antenna on today’s cars couldn’t accommodate the eight or more antennas required to support 5G, V2X and other next-generation connectivity technologies. Automakers must either add another shark fin antenna or spread the antennas throughout the vehicle, both of which impact vehicle design and increase costs considerably.
Our engineers have invested significant time to develop a game-changing solution. Our fully integrated flat (or conformal) antenna 5G telecommunications unit (TCU) not only accommodates the wide array of antennas in a single package but also gives the vehicle a sleeker look with a measurable improvement in fuel economy or Electric Vehicle range, from less drag and wind noise. Integration also means fewer cables and easy installation with equal or better performance than today’s shark fin antennas. The state-of-the-art TCU required extensive development and specialized expertise, which is why Lear partnered with Calearo, a global automotive antenna supplier. Lear’s advanced positioning technology is also over-the-air (OTA) upgradeable with our TCU enabling lane level navigation, hands-free autonomous driving and precise location for curbside service forming a customizable solution for the future of 5G and mobility.
Our flat antenna is the center of vehicle connectivity services inside and outside the vehicle, which integrates numerous next generation connectivity technologies all in a single module. Cutting edge services and experiences will be possible thanks to the high precision positioning system integrated with a high-bandwidth, low latency 5G connection. This will allow real-time downloads of updated, high definition 3D maps used by the integrated V2X technology for self-driving vehicles.
Are we ready? We’re excited about 5G’s potential and will be launching one of the first 5G V2X TCUs this year. Like the rest of the world, we are working to solve the technological challenges that will propel us into a future that was once only imagined.