The upcoming technological revolution will be based on 5G connectivity. The hype of 5G, short for, the fifth generation of mobile data wireless technology, is riding on the peak at this time.

Though the 5G network is on the horizon of practical application at a global level, its potential is presently experimented in several fields from telecommunication to the Internet of Things devices, smart cities and autonomous vehicles.

Autonomous Driving Ecosystem

The future of mobility is all about electric vehicles, flying cars, ride-hailing services and autonomous means of transport.

Talking about autonomous driving, automakers, tech giants and telecommunications have collaborated to make this endeavor as smooth, efficient and safe as possible. For this, AUDI AG, BMW Group, Daimler AG, Ericsson, Huawei, Intel, Nokia, and Qualcomm Incorporated formed a consortium called 5G Automotive Association (5GAA) on September 2016. The number of members has now increased to 80 including AT&T, Ford, Bosch, China Mobile, Intel, LG, Vodafone and Samsung.

However, the giant auto brands Toyota and General Motors are still not a part of this group as they still favor a competing Wi-Fi-based technology.

Nonetheless, the mission of 5GAA is to develop breakthrough innovations for future mobility ecosystem and transportation service. The 5GAA then began working on a technology called C-V2X (cellular-vehicle-to-everything) employing 5G architecture.

In fact, it is actually believed that the autonomous vehicles will become an omnipresent event only when 5G connectivity will become full-fledged operational.

5G autonomous vehicles

Potential of 5G-powered autonomous vehicles. Source: Qualcomm

5G Connectivity and C-V2X Technology

Earlier in May this year, Qualcomm spoke about a possibility of autonomous vehicles communicating to each other on the go on the basis of 5G connectivity. “This mode of operation can operate without dependency or reliance on wide area network coverage,” said Durga Prasad Malladi, Senior Vice President, Engineering, Qualcomm Technologies.

Malladi told about a new 5G interface called 5G New Radio (NR). He elaborated, “Release 16 5G NR-based C-V2X technology, will bring about new direct communication capabilities, such as high throughput and ultra-reliable low latency communication (LLC), for advanced autonomous driving use cases.”While the new interface will maintain backward compatibility with Release 14 C-V2X.

Following this, the 5G automotive consortium is now rolling out mini demonstrations involving people driving vehicles installed with C-V2X chipsets and modems.

The tested vehicles exchange wireless signals 10 times per second and present specific data like warnings about pedestrians nearing the car, forecast storms news, and any accidents incident happened on the road ahead. All these information is displayed in the form of pop-up alerts on drivers’ dashboards or windshields.

Stretching on the potential of 5G connectivity, the autonomous cars would know in advance when a vehicle driving far ahead them intends to change lanes or start or stop, even if it is beyond their line of visibility.

This incredible system enables autonomous cars to better plan out their routes which include the advanced level of “predictability and determinism” and boost safety factor on roads.

Latest Experiment in Autonomous Vehicles

On August 14, 2018, a new experiment in autonomous vehicles was carried out at Colorado. This time, the participating vehicles in the experiment were connected to the traffic light. The feature allowed drivers to know about the change in traffic light colors in advance. So how would this information help the autonomous driving ecosystem?

The advocates of C-V2X mentioned that the generated data would aid autonomous vehicles to avoid accidents. Plus it would also ease out traffic congestion and cut down on greenhouse gas emissions during stops.

The 5G connectivity will eventually transfer information among autonomous vehicles and bridges, tolls, construction signs, and other roadways infrastructure, cited MIT Technology Review.