Europe’s automotive and telecoms industries have formed an alliance to promote automated driving and connected cars.
Regional carmakers such as Renault
, and Daimler
are all involved in the European Automotive-Telecom Alliance, as are the local branches of foreign manufacturers such as Ford
Major telcos in the group include Deutsche Telekom
, and Vodafone
along with equipment suppliers Ericsson
also on board.
The first goal of this alliance is to test new technologies for increasing traffic efficiency in smart cities, getting automated cars to operate in lockstep with one another (a technique known as “platooning”) and wrangling sensor data for new logistics services.
The companies, along with various trade associations, want to figure out what kinds of business models lie down the road, as well as what sort of infrastructural investments they will need. They will also set up a task force to ensure they get enough funding and cooperation from public authorities for all this.
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The group’s participants certainly had a good start—the alliance was set up by Günther Oettinger, the digital economy commissioner at the European Commission. The European Competitive Telecommunications Association (ECTA), an industry body, is one of the members of the new alliance.
“This roundtable is the proof that [telecoms and automotive] sectors can work together as we are becoming more and more dependent [on] each other,” ECTA chairman Gijs Phoelich tells Fortune. Phoelich adds the alliance would help connected cars and automated driving become a reality on a cross-border level.
This is not the only initiative driving at this vision of the future. Earlier this week, Germany’s big carmakers launched a separate alliance called the 5G Automotive Association, along with many of the same telecoms equipment manufacturers involved in the European Automotive-Telecom Alliance.
Again, the aim is to boost development of infrastructure for supporting self-driving cars. However, the membership of the 5G Automotive Association is narrower than the newly-announced alliance—it doesn’t include any telecoms operators—and it’s also an industry-led affair rather than a political one.
The broader alliance will probably also be less exclusively focused on 5G. The next generation of mobile broadband is only likely to see widespread deployment around 2020, and the new alliance wants to get testing next year.