The rollout of 5G is bringing Herbie the Love Bug to a highway near you. While there are self-driving capabilities in some vehicles today (looking at you, Tesla), fully autonomous vehicles that can think and communicate on their own are one step closer to reality with the widespread adoption of 5G.
By enabling machine-to-machine communication, the benefits of 5G on the automotive industry will be wide-reaching. The full lifecycle of the automotive industry will see major impacts, from the assembly line to the smart road.
Fully autonomous vehicles will change the way we commute, and they’re also projected to save $500 billion in accident avoidance annually and reduce our car insurance costs. Read on to see 5G’s projected impacts, or jump to our infographic below.
What is 5G?
5G is the fifth generation of cellular technology, and it’s set to transform our daily lives by connecting virtually everyone and everything together. Reliable connectivity will allow billions of devices to use and transmit data in more places, bringing major advancements to the IoT (internet of things), virtual reality (VR), artificial intelligence (AI) and more.
IoT sensors, which are devices that detect, respond and collect data on changes to the environment, will also work faster than ever before, enabling machines, objects and devices to better communicate with each other. 5G has a much lower latency than 4G, meaning devices can send, process and react to data in nearly real time (an essential component for safe fully autonomous transportation).
Fully autonomous vehicles
Many experts agree that fully autonomous vehicles won’t be possible until 5G is mainstream, due to the latency and accuracy needed to ensure safe self-driving cars. This is because connected cars use hundreds of sensors which generate tons of data that requires handling, processing and analysis. 4G devices aren’t capable of transmitting this data quickly enough.
Here are some of the ways 5G will enhance autonomous vehicles to make them more connected, reliable and safe:
Edge computing: Rather than processing data at a central location, edge computing brings both computation and data storage closer to the source. This allows 5G technology to have lower latency and communicate with other sensors and devices in real time.
Vehicle-to-everything communication: This low latency from edge computing, along with more reliable internet connectivity, will open the car door to vehicle-to-everything communication. This means that a connected car can easily transmit data from other nearby vehicles, road sensors, infrastructure and more.
HD road mapping: In order for an autonomous vehicle to drive safely, enhanced mapping is essential. For example, if a road ended near a cliff, the vehicle has to know when to stop. HD road mapping is currently in development to give cars instant 3D access to roads so they can maintain situational awareness, improving the safety of self-driving vehicles.
Safer smart roads
Our cars aren’t the only things getting smarter — our roads are, too. Smart highways use sensors to track road conditions, reduce traffic congestion and more. But, like autonomous cars, smart roads are currently restricted by how fast they can transmit data on 4G.
Discover 5G’s smart road technology improvements:
Real-time traffic reporting: Traffic movements can track and transmit data to connected cars nearby. This will decrease traffic congestion and time spent idling, while also reducing emissions.
Road maintenance data: Hazardous road conditions such as potholes can be addressed a lot quicker with 5G data. Road sensors and connected cars will transmit street data directly to contractors, who can then address them accordingly.
Weather detection: Twenty-one percent of all crashes are weather related. Smart roads will be able to detect nearby weather conditions with sensors and then send updates to nearby cars’ satellite navigation systems so drivers know what to expect on the road ahead.
Enhanced infotainment: Fast connection speeds means virtual reality and augmented reality entertainment and streaming play seamlessly and delay-free.
Faster freight and shipping
Vehicles that transport our goods will also be getting a makeover from 5G. The logistics industry expects to see faster deliveries and less revenue leakage as a result. Further, autonomous trucks may be on the road by as early as 2027.
These are some of the projected advancements in the logistics industry:
Virtual reality road assistance: Companies will be able to manage fleet maintenance using a remote mechanic. This will speed up roadside assistance, getting autonomous trucks back on the road faster to improve delivery times.
Advanced location tracking: “Dead zones” may become a thing of the past thanks to 5G. With more accurate and advanced geo-location technology, travel delays in remote and rural areas will be easier to track. Route optimization will also become more advanced, which will both reduce travel time and improve delivery speeds.
Advanced auto manufacturing
5G’s impacts on the automotive industry will begin at the assembly line. Car production will be faster, cheaper and more efficient. In the immediate future, 5G will allow remote factories to have more connectivity and communication.
Check out the long term impacts of 5G in auto manufacturing:
Assembly robots: Wireless, connected assembly lines can build parts and complete car body construction without the use of cables and wires.
Real-time machine learning: Mobile edge computing will allow for analytics and the use of AI to improve production close to the data origin source and in real time.
As 5G continues its rollout, we’ll see major advancements in automotive technology. The goal is that this smart connectivity will improve safety, reduce pollution and lower car insurance costs. Check out our infographic below for a visual guide to 5G in the auto industry.
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