5G and the Future of Autonomous Vehicles

5G and the Future of Autonomous Vehicles

Virtually all autonomous vehicle efforts have relied on the mapping of roads, to allow vehicles to know where they are located, coupled with cameras, radar, LIDAR and GPS.

The mapping of roads, including the location of stop signs, pedestrian crossings and other vital information, requires considerable time-consuming effort.

Without mapping roads, it’s, currently, virtually impossible for an autonomous vehicle to operate safely.

Cameras and LIDAR, for example, can help avoid objects and pedestrians, and maintain separation from other vehicles, but GPS, by itself, isn’t sufficient to guarantee the vehicle’s location and the location of all the signs and signals involved.

Mapping is the primary reason why the adoption of autonomous vehicles has been slow in arriving and is not expected anytime soon. As Mobileye says on its website:

“A high-definition map is required for precise localization of the vehicle, relative to road boundaries and intersections, under all conditions.” 

Local autonomous services, such as the taxi service in the Villages, have required the mapping of the streets to allow the vehicles to operate autonomously. They have also required a central dispatch location to handle unforeseen events, such as stalled cars.

Even LIDAR and cameras have trouble identifying large potholes in a street. Everyone is familiar with the effects of snow and rain. GPS signals can be blocked.

Events are moving rapidly, with Mobileye having demonstrated using its cameras, without LIDAR, to navigate difficult streets in Jerusalem.

Screen capture from Mobileye video of autonomous vehicle operating without LIDAR or Radar in Jerusalem.

Yet, a fully autonomous vehicle world would require the mapping of every street, highway and back-alley in the country.

However, it’s possible that 5G can change that.

5G, with its millions of locations, could provide the needed vehicle location accuracy. 

Every 5G antenna location will be known, and they will blanket the country. It’s possible that receivers in vehicles could use antenna locations to precisely establish the vehicle’s location.

This could make autonomous vehicles a reality much sooner than would otherwise be the case.

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