5G | 09 Oct 2020

What impact will 5G have on the future of driverless transport?

In this video, Simon Brewerton, Chief Technology Officer at autonomous vehicle maker Aurrigo, chats to Danny Kelly, Head of Innovation, Vodafone UK, about the future of driverless transport and the important role high-speed mobile connectivity will play in making these automated systems function effectively and safely.

Driverless vehicles are already being used in the UK, whether ferrying golfers from the clubhouse to the first tee or transferring baggage around airports.

To operate safely such vehicles rely on an array of sensors – such as laser scanners, cameras, tachometers and GPS mapping – to help them ‘see’ and navigate the world around them.

But all these sensors generate a lot of data that has to be transferred across the communications network in real time to traffic management centres. In time, vehicles will also be able to communicate with each other and with transport infrastructure such as traffic lights and street signs.

This is why high-speed 5G connectivity, with its low latency (lag) and high bandwidth (capacity), will be so important in the creation of autonomous transport systems within the smart cities of the future, experts believe.

“You need to have the connectivity, and the connectivity has to have the low latency so you can be….monitoring in real time,” says Mr Brewerton.

“You need the high bandwidth because you need video signals and you’ve got to get that from a vehicle out over your network.

“If you don’t have the low latency and you don’t have the high bandwidth it’s really hard to take the humans out of the vehicle.”

Vodafone is involved in several autonomous vehicle projects across the country and recently announced a partnership with Midlands Future Mobility to provide 5G connectivity along 300 miles of road in the West Midlands as part of the consortium’s autonomous vehicles trial.

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