Feb 15, 2019


Widespread 5G is just around the corner, and not a moment too soon. The Internet of Things is growing by leaps and bounds, and it needs a connection capable of handling the massive volume of data that comes with it.

Driverless cars aren’t wearables or smart appliances, though; people’s safety depends on them working properly. And although teleoperation is an important step in that direction, 5G will help teleoperation make autonomous vehicles that much safer.

There’s a staggering amount of data collected via radar, lidar, and video by a driverless car’s sensors. In fact, an autonomous vehicle generates up to 4,000 GB of data per day, while it responds in real time to road conditions, traffic, and other drivers. All of this data has to get to the teleoperator nearly instantaneously if it’s going to be useful. The 5G network has several new features that can make that happen.

Network stability. Do dropped calls sound familiar? Those are nothing compared to the potential churn created by a driverless car losing its connection to its teleoperator. A driverless car equipped with 5G is much more likely to maintain its connection during crucial scenarios, such as when a shuttle full of university students is navigating inclement weather or a mining truck is moving through a treacherous, off-road situation.

High bandwidth. 5G is expected to operate at speeds of up to 20 gigabits per second, as opposed to 4G, which tops out at 1 gigabit per second. In other words, if 4G is a garden hose, 5G is a fire hose. The ability to receive lots of information fast allows the teleoperator to get relevant, up-to-the-second data on the vehicle’s circumstances and pilot it accordingly.

High capacity. If a driverless car is in a traffic jam with hundreds of other cars—driverless or not—all using 4G wireless connections to talk, text, and send photos and videos, things will slow down considerably. But 5G has room for everyone: It can handle a million connections per square kilometer, as opposed to 4G’s 1,000.

Wide accessibility. Autonomous vehicles should be able to go anywhere. In the future, there will be wide adoption of 5G to support autonomous driving, with infrastructure built to support this.

Low latency. A lot can change in half a second. To safely pilot driverless cars, teleoperators need to know where the vehicle is in the moment. A 5G data connection is expected to respond in 1 millisecond: 50 times faster than 4G. And we all know how important low latency is for teleoperations.

Our teleoperation technology will make the most of 5G’s improved features. The combination will help make driverless cars safer and more responsive.

Learn more about Designated Driver and our approach to teleoperation services.