Japanese mobile carrier SoftBank is pursuing its other hobby: smart cars. They are partnering with native, Honda last year to make cars emotive using cloud-based tech based on SoftBank’s Pepper robot (think Knight Rider’s KITT). The positive of that collaboration are beginning to emerge, in the guise of the auto-maker’s AI-assisted NeuV and Sports EV concepts. With the clock ticking down to Honda’s 2025 deadline for driverless cars, they are moving on to the next phase in their connected cars project, which is all about 5G.
Along with rivals NTT Docomo and KDDI, SoftBank is already testing 5G in Japan, with a view to kick-starting services by 2020. Before then, the carrier will test how well Honda’s cars can communicate with one another over its 5G network. Starting in 2018, SoftBank will install 5G base stations at the auto-maker’s Takasu Proving Ground closed test course in Hokkaido, Japan. The 6.8 km circular course serves as a stomping ground for Honda’s smart cars, and soon they’ll be talking over wireless networks while speeding around.
The bigger picture may encompass SoftBank’s ridesharing investments, which include Singapore’s Grab (which also counts Honda as a backer), India’s Ola, China’s Didi, and now Uber. We know that Uber is also testing driverless cars in select states in the US. And, smarter cars operating over faster wireless networks will only improve these services and, in turn, line SoftBank’s bursting pockets.