Cisco joins with Oxbotica to bring OpenRoaming to autonomous cars to improve connectivity, boost productivity

Cisco announced Thursday a new initiated federation of providers that helps devices connect to trusted hotspots. The pace is gathering behind the development of autonomous vehicles (AVs), and with that, an increasing understanding that these vehicles are going to need better ways to connect and share the high-value data that they generate. 

AVs need a better method of transferring high-value, high-volume data easily, efficiently, and cost-effectively, and Cisco’s OpenRoaming and Wi-Fi 6 access points provide just that. OpenRoaming allows AVs and mobile users to automatically roam between Wi-Fi and cellular networks. Using OpenRoaming, 

AVs can connect to trusted Wi-Fi networks without the need to enter usernames or passwords. Instead, AVs authenticate using credentials issued by the AV manufacturer, like Oxbotica.

Autonomous vehicle software company Oxbotica realized that AV fleets will need ‘copper-free’ data communication. The next generation Connected Vehicles Co-Innovation between Oxbotica and Cisco puts in place a key component towards Oxbotica’s vision of Universal Autonomy. It will allow Oxbotica’s customers to customize and integrate an autonomy solution into their products, deploying across various fleet networks and enabling secure, cost-effective data transfers.

Cisco is leading the charge for OpenRoaming. The company is organizing the federation that helps match identity providers, like Samsung and Boingo, with Wi-Fi access providers. 

The OpenRoaming Federation shares the user credentials between the different providers. Once a user signs in to an identity provider, access providers will allow those identities to automatically join their networks, so users can to get online automatically. 

Cisco also makes sure that this process is secure. An OpenRoaming partner, like the Fira de Barcelona convention center or any other venue, can choose how to use OpenRoaming. For example, they may choose to only give limited network access to devices using a specific carrier identity.

OpenRoaming is a new way to connect mobile devices to a Wi-Fi network – automatically. Instead of finding and typing Wi-Fi passwords, and coping with disruptive pop-up screens that users have to click through, consumers adopting OpenRoaming can connect quickly, automatically, and securely to a trusted Wi-Fi network to the mobile device.

With the Wireless Broadband Alliance estimating that more than 125 million connected car shipments are expected by 2022, AVs represent just the ‘tip of the spear’.

The automotive industry is focused on the massive amounts of data these vehicles will need to communicate. In fact, AVs generate 1.2 TB of data in a 16-hour day and make 150 independent vehicle detections every second. The data is generated from sensing systems such as LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) sensors, RADAR and video cameras, alongside Advanced Driver Assistance Systems logs; too large to push over a cellular network.

With this partnership, Oxbotica AVs are able to connect to OpenRoaming-enabled hotspots. Communications are secured using Cisco’s cloud enterprise network security platform, Umbrella, with data being uploaded to Oxbotica’s cloud.

OpenRoaming isn’t just for AVs, it’s game-changing for users in dense areas like airports, retail stores, arenas, and more. The connectivity tech allows people to join wireless networks across enterprise, consumer, and public markets. OpenRoaming connects identity providers, service providers, and enterprises to share the needed credentials across networks. For AV passengers, Wi-Fi can be used with a vehicle’s cellular wide-area connection to provide local connectivity to Wi-Fi enabled devices.

“While some data is required while the AV is in motion, most data can be gathered when the AV is stationary,” says Joel Obstfeld, the Distinguished Engineer at Cisco who’s led the collaboration with Oxbotica’s engineers, “AVs, and in the near future, Connected Cars, are going to need more locations where they can transfer their high-value data. Parking garages, electric vehicle charging points, gas station forecourt, and vehicle servicing centers are just a few of the locations where OpenRoaming and Wi-Fi 6 could be deployed.”

Combined with Wi-Fi 6 and 5G, OpenRoaming creates the potential for superfast and seamless connectivity. Cisco’s Wi-Fi 6 Access Points offers faster speeds, improved capacity, and lower latency. While Wi-Fi 6 is perfect for indoor arenas, 5G is better suited for outdoor areas—this means users will enjoy connectivity wherever they are.

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