Self-driving cars: when technological innovation improves our quality of life and safety
Machines that talk to each other – no this isn't the storyline of Steven Spielberg's next science fiction movie, but the reality of our future. In fact, Luxembourg's Minister of Economy and Minister of the Environment, Climate and Sustainable Development together with their French and German counterparts, have approved the testing of self-driving cars, using 5G under real conditions. This experiment will make it possible for tests to be carried out on real roads, on the motorway corridor linking the cities of Metz (France), Merzig (Germany) and South of Luxembourg. This explains the name of the project – "5GCroCo" (5G Cross-Border Control). Although self-driving cars have been in the pipeline for a while, the deployment of 5G technology will make them even safer. Three areas relating to how these vehicles drive at the cross-border test site will be studied:
- Remote driving
- Continuously receiving and transmitting data
- The improvement in traffic and driving conditions for motorists
Thanks to 5G technology, which is present in the vehicle and in external sensors, it will be possible to share data, not only with other vehicles but also with the surrounding infrastructure. The car will be able to react autonomously and warn motorists of dangers ahead. This will have an impact on collisions as well as on the flow of traffic, traffic jams and pollution caused by road transport. To sum up, together these three specific cases should reduce the number of road accidents by improving the motorists’ safety and comfort.
In addition, as the "5GCroCo" project is a cross-border experiment, it will be possible to test the 5G mobile network when crossing the borders. Having a permanent connection, even when crossing the border, is a real opportunity to improve safety. As such, POST wanted to be involved in the project and offer its expertise. In this way, the Luxembourgish company, leader in the telecommunications field, is positioning itself in the deployment of 5G in Europe, outside its borders.
As a telecommunications service provider, POST also has a decisive role to play, as self-driving cars will become a reality with the help of 5G technology. It is in fact 5G that will enable vehicles to communicate with each other and share data, continuously and in real time. Interconnectivity with other cars, but also with certain street furniture items, will make it possible to receive a large flow of constantly changing data from a number of sources outside the vehicle. To create the "omniscient" car, two components intrinsic to 5G NR (New Radio) are necessary: the amount of information transmitted via ultra-broadband (enhanced Mobile BroadBand: eMBB) and a very reliable low latency* (Ultra Reliable Low Latency Communications: URLLC). Having a very low latency, of around a millisecond, is essential for an immediate response to the dangers of the road: the reaction time of a driver travelling at 130km/hour, without fatigue, in a non-self-driving car is approximately one second, which equates to 120 metres travelled on dry road before the vehicle stops. However, when there is a risk, a self-driving car will warn other cars in one millisecond and will activate the emergency brake assistance to stop the vehicle in less than 85 metres.
Technological innovation improves our daily lives. It can even save lives.
* Latency measures the speed at which signals are transmitted through a telecommunications network.