5 December 2019

The advent of autonomous cars is inevitable, and they will be part of the fleet landscape in the not-too-distant future. However, in order to be completely safe, they would need hundreds of sensors to monitor their surroundings and use the data gathered to make quick (and correct) decisions. This is where 5G could be useful in making these vehicles safer.

How does 5G help self-driving vehicles?

As a mobile network, 5G is a hundred times faster than 4G, handling millions of more connections with much faster data downloads. Because of the speed of the network, the latency (the lag between the query and the answer) is much lower.

For example, if the sensors detect an obstruction in the car’s path, they convey this information to the processing centre, which tells the car to slow down or stop. The delay between the information reaching the vehicle’s ‘brain’ and it making a decision is the latency.

As you can see, a lower latency means quicker, accurate analysis and faster reaction times, which in turn means safer driving.

What autonomous vehicle safety features does 5G enable?

 

Vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-everything (V2X) connections

With 4G technology, vehicles share real-time location and information. However, 5G enables them to connect to and share data with almost everything through a really fast, extremely reliable, and completely responsive network.

Two such connections are vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-everything (V2X).

V2V connections could allow vehicles to ‘help’ each other by sharing information. For example, a smart car behind a smart lorry could get information from the lorry’s sensors to see if it was safe enough to overtake.

These connections could also help prevent a pile-up when a vehicle suddenly stops. In such a case, the braking car could communicate with the vehicles behind it, ‘telling’ them that it was going to stop, so they could stop, or slow down, as well.

V2X connections could help autonomous vehicles navigate the environment safely. These connections would allow a self-driving car to detect what might be hidden in the blind spots, as well as animals, people, or obstacles in the road that could be possible collision risks.

These connections could also link to other sources of information to get the weather, road conditions, obstructions, and objects near the car to make on-the-spot decisions about the best course of action.

In case of an event that could cause congestion or the need for a diversion, like a disaster or crowds from a sports match, the autonomous car could be warned in advance, allowing it to reroute.

Invisible-to-visible (I2V)

As we know, 5G allows autonomous vehicles to share information extremely quickly. It is possible to use this fast connection and combine it with augmented reality to come up with an I2V monitoring system that shows you places of interest as you drive through an area.

Remote pilots

The idea behind an autonomous vehicle is that when it cannot make a decision or navigate a difficult area, for whatever reason, it should be able to hand over the control to the driver. If, however, the driver is incapable of driving the vehicle, 5G will make it possible for the car to be controlled by a remote pilot.

As the name suggests, a remote pilot is a fully-trained driver who is actually nowhere near the vehicle but can take over the control of the car through a simulator. This remote driver could take over controls instantly, making sure that the otherwise dangerous vehicle does not harm others on the road.

Further reading

Vehicle safety is becoming better with technology. Here are some other articles that discuss new safety features in cars that could make your fleet, and fleet drivers, safer.

You can also improve your fleet safety and management issues with the solutions we offer for fleet management and leasing, employee benefits, and driver services, call us on 0844 854 5100 or email CSalmon@sgfleet.com.

Steering wheel with 5G and icons superimposed on it