The transcript of this conversation has been edited for clarity.
LUKE RENNER: This is Advanced Autonomy, I’m Luke Renner. My guest today is Jason Kenagy. He’s recently joined the Cyngn team, focusing on strategic business development. Jason has decades of experience in tech and enterprise business, with hundreds of patents and dozens of product successes in the mobile computing space.
Jason has spent a lot of time working from 2G to 5G, and led the business’s strategy in creating Qualcomm’s 5G patent portfolio. His knowledge of 5G applies to connecting all types of devices into increasing autonomous technologies. In this conversation, we’ll discuss the intersection of 5G and autonomous vehicle deployments.
Hi Jason, welcome to the show.
JASON KENAGY: Great thanks Luke, it’s great to be here.
LUKE RENNER: Yeah, i’d like to start by asking you what are the differences between 4G and 5G as it relates to industrial use cases?
JASON KENAGY: Right yeah, so the main factor that people need to understand is it’s all about access. Prior to 5G, cellular wireless networks were, for the most part, just not available to enterprises. And so, that’s a big function that has changed with 5G. There’s now the capability for enterprises to get cellular technology.
There’s several things that came into play to make this happen. The key word that I think people need to understand here for this access topic is a term called private networks. And private networks, it’s pretty descriptive of what it is. It is an implementation of cellular wireless technology for an enterprise or for any type of entity, let’s call it to use. And entities can be things like schools, military bases, hospitals, things like that. But as it relates to enterprise, they’re things like ports, factories, warehouses, those sorts of type things.
And so it’s been a long time coming, there’s been this desire to have this. The cellular ecosystem has been very mobile network operator focused towards kind of consumer applications for previous G’s. But there’s been this kind of even in 4G it started, the motion started going back a couple G’s, 3G’s into 4G to bring this capability for enterprises to use it and through the development of the standards, it’s finally here essentially with 5G, through this concept of private networks.
LUKE RENNER: That makes sense. So the use case for 5G is relatively clear for a consumer, right? Trying to get more data out of their mobile phone, faster downloads, faster streaming. What makes 5G attractive for these enterprises that you’re talking about? Is it just faster data speeds, lower latency?
JASON KENAGY: The keywords I'll say here are our reliability, availability, and performance. And what I mean about reliability and availability, it’s if you work within operations within an enterprise you know you need extreme reliability, you know, very high reliability and availability. Five-nines of availability, available 99.999 percent of the time you need your systems online.
And again back to, you know, these features that existed in home networks and consumer private, consumer cellular and WiFi networks, to some extent it’s not as important for enterprise, it’s critically important. And WiFi, although it’s made a lot of great improvements over the years that make it more available to things like office environments, things like that, it’s just, it wasn’t ever designed with the intent that cellular was designed for.
And cellular, as I think folks know, it’s a very reliable technology. The white house uses cellular technology, you know, public safety, emergency services use cellular technology as well, right? So it is known in non-private networks if you will, to have a very high quality service and very high reliability, that’s now available through this private network concept with 5G for enterprise as well.
So that reliability, that availability, that’s a key kind of game changer here through again, the implementation of private networks and those performance things matter as well. You mentioned two of them, one of them was latency and another one in the industry terms, enhanced mobile broadband, more data, more bandwidth.
The third that is worth mentioning here in terms of you know the performance board that I referenced earlier, the scalability. And there’s something called the massive internet of things within the 5G and wireless industry. And that basically just means you can have dozens, hundreds, thousands of devices connect onto a 5G private network. And for large enterprises, even medium-sized enterprises that are, you know, pursuing autonomy, in some cases doubling autonomy month over month, having that ability to add dozens of devices, it’s something you can’t do on other wireless technologies. You can do it using Ethernet wires, right? You know, but obviously there gets to be a point when you can’t have, you know, any more wires and wires literally get in the way, and maintaining all those wires.
And so again, that reliability, that availability, and that performance along with that reliability, availability, makes 5G and private networks kind of provide the ability to have wireless wires. Like wireless Ethernet wires essentially.
LUKE RENNER: Got it. So it sounds like really 5G isn’t coming to replace 4G as much as it’s coming to replace WiFi.
JASON KENAGY: It’s a debate, there’s all kinds of opinions on this, you know, within the various industries. And I don’t know whether it would be, I mean it’s not going to replace WiFi or Ethernet, it’s not like a zero-sum game or a binary sort of type switch here.
WiFi existing on the current spectrum that it’s existed on, like 2.4 gigahertz and 5 gigahertz, that’s not going anywhere. There’s a lot of utility for cellular data offload, you know for people to be able to check their email on their smartphones, those sorts of type things, very useful. You know there’s other uses for it as well.
Ethernet is also very useful. I mean frankly the access points, whether they be WiFi access points or 5G access points in a private network, those access points are connected by Ethernet of course, right? So Ethernet is not going away as well.
LUKE RENNER: Okay.
JASON KENAGY: And there's cases in which it makes sense. But for the types of uses that enterprises, industrial grade enterprises need, yeah cellular is an inherently superior and very sensible technology for them, right. So these things can all coexist, they can all get along, right? And they have their very different purposes. For machines that need,just for example, high-speed manufacturing, high-speed production in which the front end of a manufacturing line is communicating with all points down to the quality assurance, you know the final steps of a manufacturing line. Those things all connected together using AI, as well, to make adaptations to the production process, you need that sort of ultra low latency and you need the reliability. There can’t be dropouts.
LUKE RENNER: I want to go back to something that you said a little earlier. So the wired internet connection is what connects to 5G. So does that imply that 5G only works in places where there’s an internet connection?
JASON KENAGY: No. Actually that’s a great question by the way. There’s the ability to have these things function in a stand-alone way. I’ll go ahead and say kind of like Cyngn, as well right? And to get Cyngn autonomous systems to run entirely, and run great, entirely disconnected, right? And so with a 5G private network there are some benefits to having connectivity back to a back end, if you will, for remote administration and things like that. But really it’s once you get the network set up, once you get it provisioned locally, that you can have all of the equipment be on premises and at that point, it just runs as long as it has power. You know, like electricity, then it can run without any connection back to the internet or to a back end. That is completely feasible with 5G private networks.
LUKE RENNER: Okay so we’ve talked about the connectivity capabilities, we’ve talked about the security features. I’d like to ask if you’re, you know, an enterprise listening to the show right now, what are some signs that they may see in their business that they’re ready for 5G or should explore 5G?
JASON KENAGY: Yeah that’s an interesting one. I feel like there’s all kinds of analogies, from the enterprise world to the home world that can be made, that are maybe helpful in this case. So folks have seen and people are pretty used to Amazon Echo devices being added onto their network in their home and attaching light bulbs and in some cases, even door locks and things like that as well, right? And so the genie’s out of the bottle a little bit in this regard, you know on an individual, consumer level. And up until now, up until 5G, that really wasn’t quite as safe and possible because back to some of your previous questions, security and now, as well as just the very first question here, access. So now access is becoming available through these private networks. It’s secure and these concepts in terms of the value that you get by adding all these things onto your network and allowing these things to be connected and wirelessly connected, not to just oversimplify it and dumb it down too much, but just that concept applying to enterprises is a natural, organic realization that I think enterprises will have.
Another factor that i’ll say here is just, everybody, all enterprises, need to increase productivity and efficiency. They must. They must constantly do that, right? And there are a certain amount of maybe cutting edge, maybe bleeding edge, but there’s a bunch of enterprises that are pursuing autonomy that are ahead of the pack right in some ways. And sometimes they’re doing it privately and not telling anybody about it, but there’s enough out there as well, that the genie is a bit out of the bottle on this one, that autonomy matters. And so if you want to increase autonomy and you need your machines to connect to each other, or some level of connectivity, if not constant connectivity, even in intermittent connectivity, and you want to double autonomy month over month as I referred to before, you’re going to need a method to do that in a scalable way.
LUKE RENNER: Reading between the lines here, it sort of sounds like that enterprise organizations will not be able to realize kind of the full vision of the fully connected, internet of things warehouse or internet of things factory, fully automated, fully autonomous, without making an investment in connectivity solutions like 5G. Is that overstating it, or?
JASON KENAGY: I don’t think it is overstating it. I think there’s great things that you can do today. You know, utilizing digital modernizing and utilizing great stand alone, even unconnected implementations. Cyngn offers some great ones there, for example. But longer term and when I say longer term I mean a low number of years, I mean you really do need to plan for this.
LULE RENNER: So I'd like to shift the conversation. I want to talk about how 5G is going to impact the deployment and development of autonomous vehicle technology. So, you know, one of the things about Cyngn’s AV tech is that they work at the edge, which is to say that companies don’t necessarily need to be connected and online in order to deploy an autonomous vehicle. That being said, connectivity does mean that companies get access to data pipelines and the system will automatically integrate new insights from our AI models. 5G represents the next generation of connectivity, as we’ve discussed. So I'm wondering, how are you imagining autonomous vehicle deployments will shift once 5G becomes more widely available?
JASON KENAGY: The first I would just say would be more connectivity. Even for discrete focused type tasks, more connectivity is better. And so in an environment in which an autonomous vehicle is operating, layouts change, buildings change, the insides of buildings change, meaning that new workers come online, racks and shelving moves to a particular area, and modifications to various processes, frankly outside of the realm of an existing track for an autonomous vehicle, change. So having that more regular connectivity in contact just simply brings you the massive value of being able to make updates and make adjustments more real time essentially. To have these things happen kind of like semi automatically as opposed to having the autonomous vehicle be updated nightly or relearn on itself in some downtime mode, they will be able to be updated somewhat continuously by having such connectivity. Because change does happen. The workplace environment does happen both in terms of the physical layout of stuff as well as processes all around in that stuff. And by having that connectivity or constant connectivity that will just happen, and it’s a huge deal, just brings much more real time. And that’s a big benefit when time matters.
The second i’ll say will be interaction. And whether it’s autonomous vehicles interacting with each other, or whether it’s autonomous vehicles interacting with other elements within the system. And that may be a robot arm picker or something that itself has been updated or its task that it’s doing has been updated, and that can change the cadence or the approach of the autonomous vehicle that goes to have a pickup or drop off at that robot arm, for example. So having connectivity amongst devices, again it can be autonomous vehicles connectivity from a fleet orchestration standpoint, or it can be so many other things such as again, automated picking arms or even just new pickup drop-off stations, to humans as well.
And so those are the two things. I think real-time connectivity for real-time changes and then an expansion of being able to work more efficiently by being able to orchestrate and connect with other devices for efficiency as well.
LUKE RENNER: Yeah it sounds like 5G is going to create a lot more opportunities for these assets to talk to one another and sort of coordinate their efforts system-wide.
JASON KENAGY: That's right.
LUKE RENNER: That’s very interesting.
JASON KENAGY: Connectivity is really like, no human wants to decrease their connections to other people generally, I mean other than you know, your odd hermit or something perhaps. But it’s pretty well known that once you know what you’re doing and once you’re comfortable with an environment, when you make more connections in that environment, good things will do, more interactions will happen, more innovation, more invention, and more positive outcomes will happen. I think that kind of applies to autonomy as well. Cyngn systems support great offline capabilities for specific tasks but as you start to add that connectivity on the possibilities, still preserving the performance of that existing task of course, it allows more opportunities to develop as well. And that’s the promise and that’s the future, and it’s pretty straightforward really and we’re on a good track to achieve it.
LUKE RENNER: Well Jason, I really appreciate this. This has been a super interesting conversation, thanks for coming.
JASON KENAGY: Yeah thanks, my pleasure.