IBM’s Institute for Business Value (IBV) highlighted data management as one of the biggest challenges operators, OEMs and regulatory bodies face as vehicles become increasingly autonomous, predicting a surge in related information.

Research jointly conducted by the company, industry association the GSMA and vehicle maker Jaguar Land Rover tipped a hike in the amount of data the connected car sector sends over telecom networks over the next two years.

They cited research by Siemens showing if 20 per cent of the world’s 1.5 billion cars become highly autonomous it would generate around 300 zettabytes of data.

Counterpoint Research data asserts so-called connected car sales surpassed unconnected variants for the first time in 2022 and predicted a CAGR of nearly 17 per cent until 2027 for a total of 367 million vehicles.

IBM et al stated “data is the new fuel powering modern cars, and networks are the pipelines”, but noted a need for greater coverage, data authentication and collaborations to keep pace with growth in the number of connected vehicles.

Network performance, cybersecurity and data reliability are becoming a safety imperative for vehicle communications with other vehicles, pedestrians, traffic systems and IoT devices.

Telecommunications service providers have a clear role to provide high-bandwidth, low-latency, reliable and secure connectivity services to enable many of the services, the group states.

They cited Juniper Research figures placing the operator opportunity for 5G connected vehicles alone stands at $3.6 billion.

In addition to operators, vehicle manufacturers, governments, industry associations, intelligent traffic system developers and cloud providers need to build an ecosystem to establish a secure, trusted technology infrastructure for data exchanges for the sector to flourish.

The group stated generative AI could be the key to unlocking truly autonomous vehicles by deploying algorithms to produce new content to create virtual environments and simulate real-world scenarios for training purposes.

Vehicles could also have a generative AI interface so drivers can converse in natural language instead of fixed commands.

Non-terrestrial networks are identified as a key piece of the connectivity puzzle, providing coverage in areas which can’t be reached by ground-based networks, though the companies noted this may cost vehicle manufacturers and consumers more.

With expertise in deploying and securing cloud, IoT, and edge computing, hyperscalers could also play a key role in developing new vehicle connectivity services.

The group noted industry associations and governments appear to be aligning on the cellular V2X communication protocol. The GSMA is working with operators, OEMs and regulatory bodies to develop a common approach to security, regulatory and infrastructure platforms.