China’s largest telecommunications carrier service, China Mobile, recently announced that it would be testing out “smart highways”- city scale network of roads capable of supporting cellular network coordinated transportation. The roads are currently in construction in centrally located Hubei Province, of China.
This comes as a breakthrough in the 5G race. However this isn’t the first time 5G has been planned to be linked to transportation. Organisations have even invested in cars that use 5G network to drive themselves. Currently, the 4G networks are used to access weather and road updates.
The telecommunication industry calls this concept “Vehicle to Everything” or V2X. Autonomous
cars would be able to use their highly advanced sensors to calculate obstacles in their paths
and detect blind spots, hence preventing collisions and accidents with other cars and animals
Similar to how data is received by the motor neurons and sent to the brain to process, the systems on these cars collect data from their surroundings using sensors, and send it to the cloud or an on-board computer to be processed.
Engineers are working to make the time required for processing very less. Currently, the time taken by the fastest systems is 2 milliseconds. This is where 5G plays a major role.
By increasing the frequency of the signals, the time period taken for such decisions can be significantly reduced.Routes enabled with 5G could even be able to predict traffic blocks, and warn users accordingly, so as to decrease congestion on roads and advise users on which detour to take.
China Mobile isn’t the first mobile carrier to jump into the 5G highway race, but it is the first to provide actual commercial and synchronised transport services on highways vis-a-vis the progress made by other rival countries.
To support this initiative, China mobile has already installed 31 5G base stations in Wuhan
province. This service on the highway begins with “smart toll stations” which negates the hassle
of toll transponders and human operators. While this could lead to a small decrease in
employment, as once again, the robots replace human beings, it would also mean faster and
more accurate toll operations.
5G-powered highways could also significantly decrease road accidents and violations of traffic
rules, by warning the drivers with real-time traffic updates and predictions by highly diligent and
Specific highway section planning is underway for tool station testing . They also have applied
for autonomous driving permits , which will help enable autonomous cars to share the highway
with human operated vehicles. In the years to come, maybe AI could drive a stick, too.