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5G autonomous cars: could driving be transformed?

With the roll out of 5G, there are new technological benefits emerging beyond speedier web browsing and improved communications. The new super-fast connectivity is about to play a bigger part in technology as we know it, with everything from lights to cars connecting to one another.  Experts in the market believe that 5G will be fundamental to the rise of autonomous cars because of their need for a constant low latency connection to the internet and to one another.

5G is offering car manufactures a variety of options for evolving transport especially when it comes to autonomous cars. Although a complicated process, there is a possibility that the rapid-fire connectivity of 5G will make driverless cars a possibility.

The connected car

Although the driverless car could be many years away, the connected car is perhaps where the most progress has been made so far today, in the Internet of things. But what is a connected car? A connected car is one that has its own connection to the internet, usually via a WLAN that allows the car to share internet access and data with other devices. For example, your smartphone could instruct you car’s engine to start remotely or flash its lights.

Connected car, 5G and the future

Connected cars can connect with each other and the road network’s infrastructure. These attributes will become even more important in the development of 5G autonomous cars. The aim is for self-driving cars to use information from cameras and radars to create a 3D digital map of their surroundings as well as communicate with other vehicles so that the vehicle can anticipate their next movements.

Crucial to progress in making self-driving cars a reality will be extensive research and development. We already have semi-autonomous capabilities that promote safety such as cruise control, blind spot monitoring and automatic emergency breaking however, we are nowhere near self-driving vehicles. There are many businesses driving research forward, and Millbrook Proving Ground has been a testing hotspot for autonomous vehicles for many years. With collaborations from AutoAir and efforts from Universities, there are many businesses carrying out research and trials to make this a possibility. Data driven research is taking place worldwide and even forms part of a €15 million  trial of connected and autonomous vehicle testing in Germany.

The benefits of 5G has recently been demonstrated by BT at the 100th Royal Welsh Agricultural Show, where they have displayed one of the first self-driving pods in the world to be connected to a live 5G network. O2 has also teamed up with the European Space Agency in a bid to develop new tech solutions for 5G powered self-driving cars. The work will be part of the ongoing Project Darwin, which is an ongoing four year initiative designed to speed up self-driving car development.

O2 Chief Operational Officer Derek Manus said, “our approach to this project is part of our wider strategy to collaborate with British businesses, partners and start-ups to unlock the possibilities for customers and wider UK economy.”

Another company working on similar projects is Nvidia who unveiled a new supercomputer designed to help train the AI infrastructure needed to manage and run a fleet of self-driving cars.