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Werner Struth chairman of Robert Bosch LLC speaks with journalists after CES press conference
<p><strong>Werner Struth, chairman of Robert Bosch LLC, speaks with journalists after CES press conference.</strong></p>

Bosch: Bandwidth Concerns Will Go Away

Bosch executive Werner Struth says automakers are seeking support from suppliers in the battle for Internet bandwidth. &ldquo;We will definitely find technical solutions,&rdquo; he says.

LAS VEGAS – As early as 2015, more than 6 billion devices will be connected to the Internet. Will there be enough bandwidth for the auto industry to turn future vehicles into rolling hotspots enabling the same level of connectivity that people have at home, in the office and, well, everywhere?

Absolutely, says Werner Struth, chairman of Robert Bosch LLC, a leader in automotive electronics.

“I’m quite optimistic the bandwidth and the transformation technologies we have available will be further developed. We have clear indications for that,” Struth tells WardsAuto here at the 2014 International Consumer Electronics Show.

“Look at the bandwidth we have today and the speed for data transmission compared with our expectations from 10 or 20 years ago. You would never believe we are as far as we are today. I don’t think we will see a major limitation there.”

But the concern is real. The auto and cable industries have been at odds over access to Wi-Fi service as existing channels become increasingly congested. Federal hearings are being held in Washington, and the Federal Communications Commission will decide the matter.

Automakers want additional wireless spectrum so vehicles can communicate with each other and with infrastructure to enable automated driving and technologies that will mitigate collisions and congestion.

Struth, whose Germany-based company is the world’s largest auto supplier, reporting 2012 automotive sales of $40 billion, says automakers are seeking support from suppliers such as Bosch in the battle for bandwidth.

“Definitely, bandwidth and speed of data transmission are issues our customers think about, and we think about it as well,” he says. “We will definitely find technical solutions for that. I don’t have the slightest doubts about it.”

Demand will drive the innovation, says Mike Mansuetti, president of Bosch in North America.

“We’re looking at making things faster, working on wireless systems,” he says. “I think the overall Internet will continue to expand at a rate that will keep up with the demand that we are putting on it.”

As for automated vehicles, Struth says they certainly are coming as safety concerns are being addressed and lane-guidance and stop-and-go systems already arrive in the market.

“We will add it module by module and piece by piece, and the entire system will achieve a very high degree of robustness, depending on the driving foundations,” he says. “We need to develop some redundancies in the algorithms to make sure we have a self-controlling system.”

Mansuetti finds it ironic that automated pilots have been flying commercial jets for years without questions about safety, even in inclement weather. Despite heavy snowfall, several flights left Detroit on Sunday and made it here without incident.

“That was an automated function that got us safely out of Detroit yesterday,” Mansuetti says. “I think we can learn from that.”

Here at International CES, Bosch makes it clear the company continues thinking well beyond the automotive space and its other established sectors, such as power tools, home appliances and industrial automation.

Bosch products on display here include tank-less water heaters and sensors for smartphone applications such as indoor navigation, home automation, sports, fitness and telemedicine.

The supplier also is marketing personalized “telehealth” solutions with its new Health Buddy line of products. The web-based portal allows users to monitor key health data while on the go.

Struth says Bosch continues growing its automotive sectors, but the corporate plan is to expand other segments faster.

About two-thirds of Bosch’s overall revenues is derived from automotive, but Struth says that share eventually will fall to about 50%, with the other half coming from Bosch’s three other business units: industrial goods, consumer goods and energy/building technologies.

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