It may seem like science fiction, but it is undoubtedly going to happen: the vehicles that transport people and goods will, in the next decade, become self-driving autonomous vehicles (AVs), making their own decisions and adjusting to conditions around them, powered by AI technology.
At the heart of making this possible will be 5G.
It is only through the bandwidth, capacity and latency of 5G that communication networks will have the ability to handle the huge amounts of data needing to be sent and received between each vehicle on the road, and between vehicles and roadside sensors and infrastructure.
With 5G in place, the foundations will be laid for the accelerated development of AVs. AVs are already being trialled in many places around the world but as 5G spreads it will facilitate testing and piloting on a wider scale.
As long as AV technology can be proven to be safe and reliable, the potential benefits will be immense. For personal travel, the prospect of hopping into an AV (which you would be unlikely to own yourself but would book from a platform service) opens up the possibility of using your travel time much more productively. Whereas now most travel time is ‘dead time’, you would be able to let the technology safely transport you while you relax with some in-journey entertainment streamed on the go, shop for the provisions you need for the evening meal, or perhaps get on with some work ahead of that meeting you’re travelling in for.
A new mobility ecosystem will form, with MaaS providers operating fleets of vehicles and running integrated multi-modal transport systems. Public transport will be better connected, and you will be able to pay for all transport through one linked account, offering you greater flexibility and a wider range of transport options. Vehicle ownership is already declining as the younger generations in particular move towards pay as you go and shared use model, which means that fewer vehicles will be needed in future. This could ease congestion and pollution on the world’s roads – although pollution will be progressively reduced in any case as vehicles become electric rather than petrol/diesel based.
At the same time, journeys should get shorter – further boosting productivity. This is because AVs will link to city-wide traffic monitoring systems that will continuously update themselves according to prevailing traffic volumes and flows. Routes can therefore be optimised for each vehicle as the system acts like a ‘hive’ with one brain. This use of hive technology is already being actively explored for use in major eastern cities such as Shanghai.
This will also mean much less time sitting at red lights. It has been estimated that up to 20% of driving time in urban areas is spent at red lights. If you spend 2 hours per working day driving through city conditions to work and back, that means you spend some 100 hours a year idling at red traffic lights! Through intelligent traffic systems linked to autonomous vehicles across a 5G network, that time could be hugely reduced.
Another major benefit of these developments will be that emergency services can be optimally routed through traffic automatically, rather than needing to rely on drivers manoeuvring themselves out of the way. It has been estimated that if four minutes was cut from the time emergency service vehicles spend getting through traffic each journey, 40% more lives could be saved.
In this new mobility world, data will be key – and it will all be transmitted via 5G. There will be significant prizes for businesses to play for, including huge downstream digital revenue streams that we estimate could increase tenfold over a ten year lifetime of a future vehicle through content, media and retail that consumers will purchase on journeys when they are freed up from actually driving.
This mobile economy will benefit other sectors in the economy too. For example, we estimate that there could be a £26.4 billion boost to rural businesses in the UK by increasing their connectivity and ability to move goods quickly, as well as removing constraints around e-commerce.
These transformations will produce huge disruptive opportunities across multiple industries such as automotive manufacturers (OEMs), car dealerships, car rental and leasing firms, transport service providers, fleet and logistics operators, public transport authorities, financing and insurance companies and retail. They will also present significant opportunities for MNOs, partnering with these businesses in the mobility ecosystem to unlock new revenue streams.
“Delivering the Mobility2030 vision of a smart, clean and connected future transport ecosystem for the UK will require close collaboration between public and private actors across key sectors of the economy. Within this, telecoms will play a critical role in developing the underlying connectivity between consumers, vehicles and infrastructure. 5G has the potential to be a systems integrator for this transition, enabling a range of social, environmental and economic benefits built upon shared, connected, electric and autonomous vehicles and the smart city landscapes that they interact with.” – Charlie Simpson, Head of Mobility 2030, KPMG in the UK.
Security and reliability of data networks will be critically important for safe travel, meaning that the MNOs that develop the most robust 5G networks will put themselves into pole position.
With 5G, the race towards the mobility networks of the future is about to truly begin.
For detailed insights into key aspects of the mobility future and how KPMG can help, visit our Mobility 2030 pages.