Verizon, University of Michigan test 5G network for driverless cars
A number of 5G features make the technology perfect for testing and improving autonomous vehicles
Verizon and University of Michigan’s Mcity are using 5G technology to advance transportation safety and shape the future of autonomous vehicles and smart cities. The Mcity Test Facility, which sits on a 32-acre site on U-M’s North Campus Research Complex and has more than 16 acres of roads and traffic infrastructure, is utilizing Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband network to test various 5G solutions to boost pedestrian safety and avoid car accidents.
5G’s high bandwidth, low latency and ability to connect hundreds of devices in a relatively small area make the technology particularly useful in improving autonomous vehicle testing and safety.
5G-connected cameras that are installed at every intersection inside the Mcity test track are gathering traffic and pedestrian data. The Mcity laboratory simulates the broad range of complexities vehicles encounter in urban and suburban environments, and the collected data will lead to solutions to prevent collisions.
Connected cars have sensors that can “talk” to each other to help avoid accidents, but cameras connecting to traffic light signals will help protect those on foot or bikes.
“We’ve installed signal controllers at the intersections within Mcity that provide signal phase and timing data to the 5G network,” said Eric Raamot, chief technology officer at Econolite. “With 5G, we can help drivers see things before the human eye can register, and prevent, collisions by changing the traffic signals when a safety risk is imminent.”
As Verizon’s press release points out, the National Safety Council estimates that roughly 4.5 million people were seriously injured in car accidents last year, while another source claims that 94 percent of vehicle accidents are caused by human error. By transmit critical and time-sensitive traffic data at super-fast speeds, Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband network enables autonomous vehicles to react faster than humans when it comes to braking, a crucial step toward reducing road collisions.
“5G can change all of our lives by making our commutes a lot easier and safer,” said Tami Erwin, executive vice president and CEO of Verizon Business Group. “Cars can communicate with each other in near real-time and with sensors installed in streets and traffic lights. They’ll be able to almost instantly share information on roadway and weather conditions and alert you to dangerous situations ahead.”