Autonomous vehicles are probably going to use wireless networks to communicate with central servers, other vehicles, and various devices to make sure they don’t crash into anything. Researchers at SK Telecom announced Tuesday that they have tested the world’s first 5G-connected cars to enable the networks on which those communications will occur.
The tests used a 5G trial network that covered 240,000 square meters (more than 2.5 million square feet) with support for peak data rates of more than 20 gigabytes per second and sub-millisecond latency. This network was used on a car called the T5, which used video recognition tools to assist drivers, and a bus that offered on-the-go VR experiences. It also streamed ultra-high-definition video of the tests to an audience.
“5G will offer much more than just faster data speeds. It will serve as a true enabler for a whole new variety of powerful services that deliver unprecedented value to customers,” SK Telecom CTO Alex Jinsung Choi said Tuesday. “Today’s demonstration of 5G-based connected car technologies marks the very first step towards achieving fully autonomous driving in the upcoming era of 5G.”
SK Telecom isn’t the only company working on 5G networks. AT&T did the same in June, and while those tests capped at 10Gbps transfers and were not used with connected vehicles, it’s clear that network providers around the world are getting ready to introduce the next generation of wireless connectivity tools.
Those networks could prove useful to autonomous cars by helping them avoid collisions, for example, or enabling truly remote-controlled vehicles. Today’s wireless technologies simply aren’t good enough for those jobs.
SK Telecom said it plans to introduce 5G networks throughout 2017. The company, like AT&T and Baidu, is also working with BMW to make sure these technologies are included in connected vehicles. 5G is going to be good for everyone with a smartphone; it’s going to be great for all the companies that are rushing to build truly self-driving cars.