Huawei 5G ban could leave UK in slow lane for self-driving cars
BRITAIN’S potential to be a world leader in self-driving cars risks being harmed by the decision to strip Huawei kit out of 5G mobile internet systems, experts have warned.
The UK’s commitment to ultra-fast connectivity makes it the ninth-best destination for developing autonomous vehicles, according to consultancy giant KPMG.
But this success is dependent on introducing 5G quickly across the country – and the rollout is being slowed down by ministers’ fears that Chinese telecom firm Huawei is a security risk.
Self-driving cars will need a powerful digital uplink to work. The vehicles are expected to consume massive amounts of data as they communicate with each other to avoid collisions and update the latest roads information.
Huawei equipment has been key to the country’s 5G plans until now. The Government’s ruling means all kit supplied by the business must be purged by 2027, and phone companies have warned this will severely slow down upgrade efforts.
Countries which take the lead in developing self-driving technology will be able to cash in on a market which is estimated to be worth hundreds of billions of pounds. KPMG ranked nations’ readiness for autonomous cars on a combination of factors, including policy and consumer attitudes towards them, along with technology and infrastructure.
Singapore overtook the Netherlands to take the top spot, followed by Norway, the US, Finland, Sweden, South Korea, United Arab Emirates and then the UK. Denmark was placed 10th. Britain was highly ranked for its legal regime around autonomous cars, with the Government encouraging their development and legislating to allow road tests.
The UK’s focus on protecting selfdriving cars from hackers was also highly praised.
However, worries about infrastructure and 5G in particular caused Britain to slip down the rankings.
Ben Foulser, KPMG director of future mobility, said: “For the UK to remain competitive in an increasingly 5G-ready world, there needs to be not only clear recognition of the need to invest, but action.
“The question of where that investment comes from remains to be seen, but without it, the UK will fall further behind its competitors.”
The findings came as Deloitte predicted that by 2030 one in three new cars sold would be electric.
Half of UK consumers have said they will consider a battery vehicle for their next car, though major worries remain around charging infrastructure.
‘The question of where investment comes from remains, but without it, the UK will fall further behind’