Automakers such as BMW are investing in private 5G networks. Source: Shutterstock

Automakers such as BMW are investing in private 5G networks. Source: Shutterstock

What can automakers gain from private 5G networks?

EVERYONE knows that the network technology that will revolutionize communications between people and machines is 5G.

However, that technology has a special place in the hearts of automakers who believe it will lead them into a new era of control, safety, personalization, and entertainment.

According to German media, for example, Volkswagen will construct its own 5G mobile networks in 122 factories next year, and are currently discussing the build with European network specialists.

Daimler, too, is said to be keen on using 5G in its production facilities later next year. The company has revealed to media that partners Ericsson and Telefonica Deutschland are setting up its 5G wireless network at “Factory 56” at its Sindelfingen plant.

In Asia, BMW recently announced that it has enabled full 5G capabilities at all its plants in China.

“5G is a ground-breaking technology with the potential to revolutionize industrial production. BMW Brilliance Automotive (BBA) is taking a leading role in testing the use of 5G and developing new innovations and procedures to improve industrial productivity,” said BMW Group and Brilliance China Automotive Holdings Joint Venture President Johann Wieland.

The BMW Group believes that the benefits of the new technology are not just in its high data rate and rapid response time, but also in the reliability and security of the network.

5G offers optimal conditions for innovations that work with large quantities of data in real-time, including applications from the field of virtual and augmented reality (VR and AR), widescale networking of machines, and the use of autonomous logistics fleets.

In China, BBA partnered with China Unicom and China Mobile to build the necessary infrastructure and connect the 5G network across a total area of more than three million square meters.

Why private 5G networks are exciting

Robotics and artificial intelligence have made it possible to create machines that automatically carry out complex tasks.

However, in order for them to operate, they need to relay back the information they collect, in real-time, to processors that can read that information and pass on commands to the robot.

Over standard wi-fi, mobile, and other existing network options, this is difficult to do and when things get disconnected, the potential for damage is great.

Further, as connections are slow, real-time data transmission, processing, and relaying back commands to be carried out will be quite slow.

However, 5G overcomes all these problems and proves itself as the perfect communications channel for this service.

Why BMW is investing in private 5G networks

In BMW’s words, 5G provides the ideal conditions for numerous digital innovations and has the potential to further increase efficiency, quality, and flexibility in production.

At it’s facilities in China, BMW is experimenting with a pilot project that uses 5G to transfer large quantities of test data from vehicles to the data center in real-time, making data collection and analysis more efficient.

“In this way, vehicle updates involving large volumes of data and real-time diagnostics could also be conducted remotely in the future,” said the press release.

BMW Brilliance Automotive (BBA) sees the potential of 5G technology in many areas of production.

Possible 5G application scenarios that the company sees include augmented reality, cloud-based control of autonomous transport systems, human-machine interaction using mobile smart devices, robot-to-robot communications, and communication between robotic systems and the control center.

Effective application of 5G technology in these areas has the potential to transform automobile production and boost productivity, according to BMW — which is why the German automaker and its peers at home and abroad are all exploring the deployment of private 5G networks.