U.S. telecommunications firm AT&T is showing off a new use for its network services at CES 2017 in Las Vegas by providing new wireless services to automotive manufacturers.
VentureBeat reports that the telecommunications company has signed a partnership with Honda North America that makes it the exclusive provider of in-vehicle 4G LTE and Wi-Fi connectivity throughout HondaLink-compatible cars sold in the U.S. and Canada. This means that HondaLink’s apps such as navigation, streaming radio, diagnostics, and remote lock/unlock will have dedicated AT&T network access.
“Wireless connectivity and connected car services continue to be a key feature in customers’ next car purchase decision. Our work with Honda will deliver new capabilities to future models,” Chris Penrose, AT&T’s Internet of Things solutions president, told VentureBeat.
Fourteen Honda vehicle models currently support HondaLink, including its popular Accord and Civic lines. This isn’t the first partnership AT&T has created either. The company’s automotive partnerships include Audi, Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Porsche, Land Rover, Jaguar, GMC, and Volvo.
On top of that AT&T has joined Delphi and Ford in developing a communication network called vehicle-to-anything (V2X). This will allow vehicles to communicate with their surrounding environment in order to improve safety, security, and traffic congestion, with the ultimate goal of preventing accidents.
This follows the trend of dedicated short-range communication (DSRC) technology that has become increasingly popular with federal regulators of autonomous cars. By using DSRC tech, cars could transmit data, such as its location, direction, and speed, to any nearby vehicle.
“This technology has the ability to drastically reduce accidents and save lives,” said Jim Zizelman, Delphi vice president of engineering, in a statement. “DSRC and LTE both have a unique role to play. The combination will help accelerate the adoption of V2X overall.”
This technology wouldn’t just be for autonomous cars. This technology could be installed in the vehicles we own today, and that could be a life-saver. Using DSRC tech, if a vehicle somewhere nearby deploys an airbag or makes any “out-of-the-norm” motion, those warning signals could be sent to every vehicle nearby.
And this technology actually works. Reports out of the Netherlands show that a self-driving Tesla vehicle predicted an accident in front of it and took actions to avoid it.
The three companies each have a separate role to play: Ford will work with the in-car integrations, AT&T will develop the actual software for the analytics platform and wireless connectivity, and Delphi will then provide the on-board module that will allow vehicles to communicate. However, this partnership is still in its early stages, so this technology may not be on the road anytime soon.
The rise of the self-driving car may be unnerving to some, but if that brings along technology that will make cars in general safer, that’s something we can all get onboard with.