5G and mobility: Vodafone showed us the first concrete scenarios


Despite the 5G is one of the technologies designed to change our relationship with technology and the environment around us, there are still many skeptics who are struggling to see concrete advantages. The reason for this skepticism is to be found in the temporary lack of concrete applications: 5G is faster and greatly reduces latency compared to 4G, but do we really need it? To find out, we went for a ride on the Arese circuit.


How 5G will change our driving habits

Top speed and acceleration have for years been no longer the most prominent features of automotive manufacturers, which are focusing research and communication on other features, in particular assisted driving systems and advanced safety features, such as the automatic braking, or adaptive cruise control, which allows a car to maintain a safe distance from the car ahead even in the absence of pilot intervention.
These functions are enabled by a series of sensors mounted on the cars, extra eyes, which support the driver limiting the possibility of error. 5G will greatly extend these features, adding to the cars the ability to communicate with each other so as to be able to offer further information, for example relating to the road surface.
Precisely this was one of the use-cases we experienced first hand, comfortably seated on the back seats of a jeep that ran on the track preceded by a Giulia. Both cars have been modified for the occasion, prepared for receive data in 5G from both other cars track, both from the edge computing system installed in the circuit.
The sensor system on Pirelli's special tires mounted on cars was able to recognize the conditions that would lead to aquaplaning and not only indicated it to the car's driving assistance systems, but communicated it via 5G to all those nearby, warning of the situation of potential danger.

5G assisted driving

Even more interesting is what Vodafone and its partners define Urban Cross Traffic Interactive, which also relies on 5G cameras installed locally. The vehicles that will install it will constantly exchange data related to their position through the telephone network and the guidance systems will rely on these to ensure the safety of the occupants, for example automatically braking the car at an intersection if another is coming, thus avoiding a probable collision. But how, even now, are intelligent assisted braking systems not already available? Yes, but they are based on cameras and therefore it is essential to have a visual line with potential obstacles. The system we have experimented instead also works in the presence of obstacles, like palaces and building sites. Leaning also on strategically placed video cameras, it is also able to warn of the presence of "classic" vehicles, that is without advanced connectivity. In this case, communication is no longer vehicle to vehicle, and edge computing systems will be needed to process this information.

Streaming video in cars in real time: this is where 5G shows your muscles

Many people wonder if the need for such high download speeds even from mobile is so widespread. Apart from the influencers, constantly streaming on some platforms, who needs all that bandwidth? The cars. The See Through function relies precisely on video cameras mounted on cars to increase the safety of overtaking.

5G assisted drive

The scenario simulated by Vodafone involved 3 cars: two equipped with the new 5G experimental systems, and a classic one. All the cars proceeded in single file, with the "standard" in the center. When the "smart" car in the queue began the overtaking maneuver of the classic car, the images sent by the front camera installed on the car were shown on the display, offering the driver a complete picture of what was happening in front of him and reducing the risk of collisions.
The system is automatically activated and deactivated as soon as the overtaking is completed, so as to avoid distractions for the driver.

Highway Chauffeour, here's how I get rid of the queues

The last feature presented during the day was related to communication V2V (Vehicle to Vehicle) and it is a kind of adaptive speed control. The current algorithms are based on lidar which calculate the distance from the car in front and try to keep it, but using the 5G network the cars could communicate with each other and greatly optimize braking and acceleration management. The diffusion of such a system would make it possible to streamline traffic and reduce the risk of rear-end collisions, but also to reduce pollution since the cars would proceed at more constant speeds, without sudden braking and acceleration, reducing emissions due to the consumption of tires and brake pads.

When will we be able to touch these innovations?

5G mlano

Edge9 has had the opportunity to try these functions directly, but it will take some time before they are available on a large scale. The tests were carried out on a circuit equipped for the occasion, with standard cars but modified with equipment not yet available on the market. The car manufacturers are in any case working on this experiment and are planning to implement these solutions in the near future, directly on the production cars. Sure, first we will have to wait for the 5G network to spread widely, which will take a few years. The road, however, is traced and what we have seen today could become the norm in a few years.

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