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Huawei Dives Deeper into Self-Driving Cars, Secures Several Key Partnerships

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【Summary】Is building a 5G network for smart cars the only thing Huawei is interested in? Or will the company revisit its plans to manufacture self-driving cars?

Original Michael Cheng    Mar 01, 2017 10:30 AM PT
Huawei Dives Deeper into Self-Driving Cars, Secures Several Key Partnerships

Huawei, the largest telecommunications equipment manufacturer in the world (surpassed Ericsson in 2012), has always been at the forefront of technology, which includes self-driving cars. But unlike its competitors in the emerging Asian region, it has not been very vocal about its advancements.

Currently, we know that the Chinese brand will not be launching its own car; but instead will develop internal components for driverless vehicles. Last year, the business openly denied a partnership with Canadian automotive supplier Magna for manufacturing vehicles, so we know that it wasn't a cover up. Additional confirmation comes from an interview between the Financial Times and Eric Xu, the company's chief executive, confirming that the company is focused on designing communications architecture for autonomous vehicles via 5G networks.

Is building a 5G network for smart cars the only thing Huawei is interested in? Or will the company revisit its plans to manufacture self-driving cars? Read on to find out how Huawei is applying its expertise and resources to become a dominant force in the driverless car industry.  

Leveraging Partnerships

A report from NetEase revealed the extent of Huawei's ambitions for self-driving vehicles. The report mentioned the business is now working with over 200 developers to streamline its plans, which includes R&D teams based in Beijing, Shanghai, Wuhan and Silicon Valley. Earlier this week, the establishment announced a partnership with Tsinghua University to work on its autonomous vessels.

A rumored car being developed by Huawei was said to feature All-Wheel Drive (AWD) and a menu of ADAS, such as avoiding pedestrians and autonomous parking. Furthermore, a Huawei self-driving car was spotted in Jinqiao Manka Tech Park, maneuvering around obstacles. But these reports do not fully confirm the company's intentions to manufacture an entire vehicle from scratch. Like NVIDIA, researchers could simply be testing driverless components – or in this case, connected infrastructure.

Concrete Evidence

Without direct confirmation from the China-based business, analysts would have to wait longer for the company to reveal its strategy for the nascent industry. So far, all we've heard from the brand is talks about 5G networks, which was the focus of several white papers and case studies authored by the establishment. Huawei also expressed its interest in smart car security – an integral part of vehicular communication networks.

"To mitigate external and internal threats to vehicles and better protect the vehicle network, a new layered vehicle security architecture is needed. The outer defense layer utilizes V2X authentication techniques to defer unauthorized network access to the vehicle. The inner defense layer uses firewall and learning-based detection techniques to isolate HMI system and in-vehicle network, enforce access control and detect anomalies," said Dr. Tieyan Li, a Shield Lab expert, during the European Symposium on Research in Computer Security (ESORICS) conference.

Other tech giants in China developing self-driving cars or related technologies include Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, Tencent Holdings Ltd and Baidu. Accenture, a high-caliber consulting firm, envisions the Chinese smart car market to proliferate rapidly, growing from $7.7 billion (2016) to $33.8 billion (2020). 

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