Driving in the Fast Lane: 5G and Autonomous Vehicles


One of the industries that will be the first to make practical use of 5G is autonomous vehicles. We investigate how the need for low-latency data communications delivered at the edge of networks is essential if the bold promises of autonomous vehicles are to be realised

More than any other industry, transport could see the most transformative impact as 5G expands across our towns and cities. 5G’s low-latency is a prerequisite for autonomous vehicle development. Also, moving data processing to the edge of the network is vital to ensure secure connectivity is always maintained, but also essential to enable the services envisioned for autonomous transport to be fully realised.

Michele Zarri, Technical Director, GSMA told Silicon: “The 5G networks will connect autonomous cars to the wider road ecosystem or other cars and infrastructure. 5G will help deliver ultra-reliable and low latency connectivity by employing licensed spectrum, edge computing and network slicing, which allows specific services to be prioritised.”

Transport as a whole could see a radical transformation as 5G becomes widespread. Here, the concepts behind the smart city and how 5G will enable IoT to make the environments we all move through intelligent and responsive integrate. Autonomous vehicles are not going to appear on our roads soon, but the network that this revolution in transport could bring will rapidly evolve over the next five years.

“The important thing to know is that the ultra-fast connections and lower latency are what makes it so exciting,” said Amol Phadke, Global Network Practice Lead, Accenture. “Autonomous vehicles, for example, will be able to react to the world around them in real-time.”

Already test facilities are now live. Millbrook Proving Ground in Bedfordshire will see 02 provide the 5G test network as part of the AutoAir project. Commenting on the launch of O2’s 5G network at Millbrook, Brendan O’Reilly, O2’s Chief Technology Officer, said: “5G will play a key role in how our country develops over the next few years. If implemented properly, 5G has the potential to drive economic growth, create jobs and enable a new host of technologies – including self-driving vehicles. That’s why we’re delighted to be supporting the trial activity at Millbrook, alongside ambitious partners who share our vision of building a truly mobile Britain.”

NEXT: Intelligent transport

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