Browse Publications Technical Papers 2021-01-0017

Intersection of Automotive and Satellite Connectivity: Use Cases and Exploration of a Hybrid Model 2021-01-0017

Universal Connectivity in the vehicle is no longer a nice-to-have function, but a critical tool to support every other function of the car - infotainment, active safety, autonomous driving, diagnostics, driving comfort etc. Although CASE (Connectivity, Autonomous, Services, Electrification) is now a commonly accepted foundation of new technology, it should perhaps be more accurately described as “C + ASE”, since Connectivity is an important enabler for the other three. Typically, connectivity in a vehicle implies primarily cellular (terrestrial) communication along with several other wireless protocols such as WiFi, Bluetooth, NFC etc. In addition, emerging vehicular technologies such as autonomous driving would potentially require ubiquitous and highly reliable connectivity. However, today’s terrestrial or cellular connectivity has some limitations, e.g., loss of service outside a carrier’s infrastructure zone (especially in rural areas), brownouts in congested urban areas, lack of stability or consistency in case of emergency or natural disaster. Satellite based connectivity, under certain circumstances may complement and act as a backup to offset some of these limitations. Traditionally however, satellite communication too had several limitations that prohibited any serious consideration for automotive connectivity, except for a one-way radio broadcast by SXM. The satellite landscape is now changing with HTS (high throughput satellites) and the growth of LEO (low earth orbiting) satellite constellations. A cellular-satellite hybrid system could take the best of terrestrial and non-terrestrial connectivity and provide a realistic option for automotive connectivity. The following paper looks at this evolving technology landscape and explores a potential intersection of automotive and satellite connectivity. We explore some of the potential (automotive) use cases, and discuss challenges seen through an automotive lens. Our preliminary exploration indicates several technical hurdles but also some benefits, especially for an automotive OEM with multi-region footprint.


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