5G Record Breaks New Ground for Driverless Comms

UK university researchers have broken a 5G data transfer record that could accelerate the communications capabilities for autonomous vehicles.

Researchers in the Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG) at the University of Warwick set a new 5G communications speed record to a “Level 4” low speed autonomous vehicle in the pioneer 28 GHz millimetre wave band.

They hit 2.867 gigabits per second in over-the-air transmissions, which is nearly 40 times faster than current fixed line broadband speeds an equivalent to sending the full contents of a high definition blockbuster film in less than 10 seconds.

This level of performance could allow autonomous vehicles to rapidly share large quantities of data with each other and with traffic management systems. Specific uses include precise 3D road maps created by LiDAR, high definition video images of the vehicles surroundings and traffic information.

WMG’s research team of Dr Matthew Higgins, associate professor, and Dr Erik Kampert, senior research fellow, used their new 5G mmWave test facility to set the new 5G mmWave band communications speed record. Working with an autonomous pod built by RDM, a Coventry-based manufacturer of Level 4 low speed autonomous vehicles, the team optimized antenna placement both inside the pod and on roadside infrastructure, such as a traffic light.

Higgins said: “These controlled trials are critical to better understand the capabilities of 5G in millimeter wave bands, and how infrastructure providers and vehicle manufacturers must carefully plan and deploy their 5G service and application rollout over the next few years. This project, which includes real-world 5G mmWave trials on the University of Warwick’s campus, will also attempt to examine how the dynamics of both the vehicle and the environment affect performance between infrastructure and connected and autonomous vehicles.”

Bob Slorach, CTO of UK based Wireless Infrastructure Group, which provided support to the project, added that: “This is an exciting step towards to the realization and deployment of future 5G applications, like connected and autonomous vehicles, which will be enabled by fiber connected wireless infrastructure that supports high data rates and ultra-low latency mobile broadband.“

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in London. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_


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