5G wireless networks will be with us as soon as 2020 some experts believe and with them they’ll bring a plethora of benefits to various industries and infrastructures around the world. One of the most exciting ways in which 5G wireless networks will be used is within intelligent transportation systems (ITS) and development testing of such systems is already underway in some areas.
ITS technologies look to improve and enhance the way in which transportation systems and infrastructure are used including traffic management, idle vehicle time, and congestion relief. As we enter the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, ITS technologies are beginning to incorporate other cutting-edge technologies such as 5G wireless networks and artificial intelligence (AI) and automation technologies in order to further enhance their capabilities, performance, and efficiency.
Due to the nature of intelligent transportation systems, there are several ways in which the inclusion of modern 5G wireless networks could enhance and improve various aspects of their operation and performance. From enabling new and improved services such as smart tolling and parking to providing a smoother upgrade path for infrastructure to accommodate future additions, 5G wireless networks have the potential to significantly shift the intelligent transportation landscape.
5 Ways 5G Wireless Networks Will Enhance Intelligent Transportation Systems
In this article, we’ve listed five ways in which the introduction of fifth generation wireless networks will enhance intelligent transportation systems, starting with the technological upgrade that 5G networks would represent.
1) Smart Cities
One of the emerging concepts behind innovations such as enhanced wireless communications, advanced automation, and the Internet of Things is that of smart cities. These smart cities would be able to collect and share the data gathered from the potentially millions of connected sensors built into the city’s infrastructure, including intelligent transportation systems.
With the introduction of 5G wireless networks, ITS infrastructure could begin to further drive us toward the goal of truly intelligent cities with the utilization of ultra-low latency networks for real-time data sharing between both vehicles and transport infrastructure.
As AI and automation technologies mature, it is likely they would rely heavily on 5G wireless networks to function optimally within intelligent transportation systems.
2) Autonomous Vehicles
The idea of autonomous vehicles has been around far longer than any of the vehicles that have actually been developed, however, we are now in an age where driverless cars and vehicles have finally become a reality.
These vehicles require data to be shared in near to real-time in order to be safe and effective and will likely become much more widespread once 5G networks have begun to roll out in the not too distant future.
In order for autonomous vehicles to reach speeds that make their use practical, they need to be able to detect other vehicles, transport infrastructure, and pedestrians within enough time to be able to respond to any potential threats that may be encountered. 5G networks have been proposed as one such solution to this problem as they would be able to deal with many times the traffic current networks can, leading on to our next point.
3) Traffic Management Systems
In order for traffic management systems to function efficiently, they need to be able to take into account all of the vehicles currently using the transportation system. However, on busy highways and in congested cities this could mean collecting and processing data from potentially thousands of connected vehicles. In order to cope with such high-demand, ITS traffic management systems could benefit from the increased capacity of 5G wireless networks.
Reliability is another key factor within traffic management systems. Ensuring vehicles aren’t kept idle at traffic lights is no good when you can’t stay connected to the vehicles at said traffic lights. Staying connected using 5G wireless networks would ensure that vehicles are constantly monitored and managed by traffic management systems so as to ensure their efficiency and safety.
4) Emergency Services
We’ve covered Why 5G Will Become Essential for Emergency Services in more detail in a separate article here, but there are several reasons as to why this is the case. These include enabling emergency service professionals to integrate new technologies and services such as ambulances that are capable of high-definition video communication, computed tomography (CT), and X-ray scans and that would connect to both the emergency vehicle itself as well as to the hospital or emergency department that the ambulance was either dispatched from or on route to.
Network slicing is another way in which emergency services could utilize 5G wireless networks to their advantage. Using 5G wireless communications systems to communicate, emergency service vehicles would be able to alert traffic management systems of their approach and enable them to modify traffic so as to provide and optimal route for the emergency service vehicle to its destination. Emergency service prioritization like this occurs today but on a smaller scale than would be possible with 5G.
5) Future-Proof Infrastructure
5G network infrastructure also promises to allow us a much easier time when it comes to upgrading our technologies in the future. While in the past this has been known to have been an often long and arduous process, thanks to a combination of enhanced connectivity, shared standards, and a focus on IoT and wireless communication, this will no longer be the case.
Providing smoother upgrade paths for future technologies also helps to provide stronger, up-to-date services such as security to protect both the intelligent transportation systems and the wireless networks themselves. As these technologies get more advanced, so will the equipment that allows hackers to exploit their vulnerabilities and so making software and security updates as easier a process as possible is in everyone’s interest.