On the road to autonomous cars with 5G

13 May 2020

5G cars

Source: SEAT

Researchers at Glasgow Caledonian University say it will be possible to have early warning systems in vehicles that alert drivers to dangers within the next few years, thanks to 5G technology.

Dr. Dimitrios Liarokapis, a researcher in the university’s Smart Connectivity and Sensing Research Group, explained that future cars could not only have sensors that scan for potential hazards, but also the ability to send and receive safety information to other nearby vehicles. Such a communication system would allow cars to gather safety information over several square miles.

Liarokapis said: “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.”

An important aim of vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications is to make roads safer for everyone. Globally, more than 1.3 million people die in road accidents and up to 50 million are injured each year, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). Alerting drivers to dangerous road conditions, such as ice or potholes, could help prevent accidents.

In addition to V2V, vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communications enables vehicles to exchange information with other cars as well as sensors on roadside infrastructure, such as lampposts and traffic lights. 5G’s fast data rates and low latency can enable these communications systems.

But to be effective, V2V and V2X will require more 5G connected cars on the road as well as pervasive network coverage. ABI Research estimates that there will be 41 million 5G connected cars by 2030 and 83 million by 2035. The very first 5G connected cars are expected in 2022.


Michelle Donegan is a tech writer who has covered the communications industry for more than 25 years on both sides of the pond. Having worked for various industry titles, including Communications Week International, Total Telecom and Light Reading, she specializes in mobile network technology trends. 

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