Imagine a world where cars warn each other about dangers on the road ahead – to prevent crashes and save the lives of drivers and passengers.
What was once the realm only of futuristic sci-fi shows or Disney animated movies could soon be an everyday reality using fifth generation (5G) technology, predict researchers at Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU).
The Smart Connectivity and Sensing Research Group’s work using mobile networks spans over 25 years and includes street-lighting systems, vehicles, communication and smart cities.
Now its experts believe the high-speed-low-delay nature of 5G will improve the reliability and capability of automated vehicles to the point where they will be safer than the manual cars being driven today.
As a result, the number of road traffic accidents – which according to the World Health Organisation account for more than 1.3 million deaths and up to 50 million people injured worldwide every year – will drop drastically.
Dr Dimitrios Liarokapis, a member of the research group, said: “To have a better idea of what the future will look like, think of having Tesla-like cars that not only use sensors to scan what’s around them, they can also talk to each other and exchange safety-related information about their surroundings over an area that covers several square miles.
“How often do we drive over ice patches on the road during winter, especially here in Scotland? I’m sure anyone who has had a bad experience on frozen roads would have benefited from knowing about the dangerous conditions in advance so they could have adjusted their speed or, if possible, even avoided that route altogether. The same could be said of pot holes.
“With the help of 5G, a vehicle-generated early warning system that alerts drivers is feasible within the next few years. Cars that are close enough to the danger area will transmit warning messages to other cars around them using short range communication technologies, but also to cars further away using 5G, fast and reliably. Then those cars will send the same information to cars near them and so on, forming a joined up, multi-vehicle communication chain that stretches far and wide.
“5G is an exciting mobile technology, which will give a massive boost to smart cities and autonomous vehicles among many other things. During the current COVID-19 pandemic, it has been perceived as a risk to health when it is in fact a provider of many exciting solutions.”