Honda announced that they are working with SoftBank, a telecom technology company, to test 5G communications technology in cars. This includes internet/phone access and vehicle to vehicle communication.
The partnership is using Honda’s Takasu Proving Ground (a closed road course) to test several facets of 5G technology.
The first area of testing is “high speed handover” technology. This enables a car to switch between cell towers and other connected stations while moving at high speed without disrupting whatever the car is doing with the connection. While this has been part of cellular technology for decades, this needs to be tested with 5G radios to make sure it works like it should. This may also be important for vehicle to vehicle communication, because vehicles can enter and leave radio range rapidly.
The second thing they’re working on is how to get connectivity in weak signal and no signal areas. While the Verizon approach seems to be putting up more and more towers to blanket nearly every place people go in signal, this still leaves small holes in coverage that vehicles might pass through, and large holes in coverage in rural areas. For something as critical as vehicle to vehicle communication, this is something they’re right to address. Future self-driving cars and safety systems could rely heavily on the technology.
This could mean several things. Vehicles might act to relay data from dead zones onto cellular networks to extend coverage to each other. It may also include the ability for a vehicle to store data briefly and send it again once coverage improves. It may also include improved antenna and signal analysis software to get some connectivity when signals would otherwise not be usable.
The partnership also indicated that they intend to work on several other things, but didn’t go into detail.