Google just ordered 62,000 autonomous Chrysler Pacificas to add to their fleet of 600 driving around America, That's convincing proof "Autonomous cars do not need 5G," as Gerhard Fettweis told the Brooklyn 5G Summit in May.
It will be years before millimeter wave can reach more than a small fraction of roads. Universal coverage would take decades. The millions of miles Google cars have driven leaves no doubt autonomous cars can drive safely using radar and lidar, although more work is needed.
Karl-Heinz Laudan of Deutsche Telecom agrees. "Automotive does not need mmWaves," he told an important European Union event May 30th in Brussels.
Dan Warren, now at Samsung, was the first to explain to me why cars couldn't be completely dependent on phone networks. "Will they freeze when they hit a deadspot? Of course not." True 5G - millimeter wave - will take years to reach even half of any country. The ultra-reliable versions of 5G (URLLC) will take even longer. The standard isn't even set as I write in June, 2018.
Network tie-ins will of course be useful, if only for Waze-like traffic updates. Gerhard went on to say that "automatic" cars might need connection because they won't have the sensing devices of "autonomous" cars. Network connections, whether 4G or 5G, can be an enhancement.
The carmakers are not willing to wait.