How 5G Paves the Way for the Driverless Car

With 5G, “we’re able to do much more targeted and sophisticated engineering,” says Don Butler, head of Ford Motor Co.’s connected vehicle program.

“As the world itself becomes more connected, it only makes sense that vehicles need to be part of that ecosystem,” he adds.

Car companies are looking to piggyback on the telecom industry’s ambitious plans to start rolling out residential 5G broadband services in limited markets, such as New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, Houston and other test markets later this year, followed by mobile 5G early next year. AT&T Inc., T-Mobile US Inc., Verizon Communications Inc. and other cellular providers are now spending billions to replace 4G cell towers and roadside infrastructure with the faster connections.

The arrival of 5G comes as more cars are rolling off dealer lots with built-in modems that allow them to link to the internet through a cellular connection. Auto makers are looking to leverage those connections into potential moneymaking ventures by using the data they collect from vehicles to build new apps, services and in-car advertisements.