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5G: Driverless cars could warn each other of dangers using new network © Getty Images

5G: Driverless cars could warn each other of dangers using new network

Published: 11th May, 2020 at 10:32
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Researchers said a vehicle-generated early warning system that alerts drivers is feasible within the next few years using 5G.

Cars could be able to “talk” to each other to warn about dangers on the roads using 5G technology in future, according to researchers.


Experts at Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) believe 5G may enable driverless cars to send each other messages about risks such as ice or potholes.

The GCU smart connectivity and sensing research group’s work using mobile networks spans more than 25 years and includes street-lighting systems, vehicles, communication and smart cities.

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Its experts now believe the high-speed, low-delay nature of 5G will improve the reliability and capability of automated vehicles to the point where they will be safer than the manual cars being driven today.

They predict the number of road traffic accidents – which according to the World Health Organisation account for more than 1.3 million deaths and up to 50 million people injured worldwide every year – will drop drastically as a result.

Dr Dimitrios Liarokapis, a member of the research group, said: “To have a better idea of what the future will look like, think of having Tesla-like cars that not only use sensors to scan what’s around them, they can also talk to each other and exchange safety-related information about their surroundings over an area that covers several square miles.

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“I’m sure anyone who has had a bad experience on frozen roads would have benefited from knowing about the dangerous conditions in advance so they could have adjusted their speed or, if possible, even avoided that route altogether. The same could be said of potholes.

“With the help of 5G, a vehicle-generated early warning system that alerts drivers is feasible within the next few years. Cars that are close enough to the danger area will transmit warning messages to other cars around them using short-range communication technologies, but also to cars further away using 5G, fast and reliably.

“Then those cars will send the same information to cars near them and so on, forming a joined-up, multi-vehicle communication chain that stretches far and wide.


“5G is an exciting mobile technology, which will give a massive boost to smart cities and autonomous vehicles among many other things.”

Reader Q&A: Is 5G dangerous?

Asked by: Shammyco, via Twitter

The upcoming fifth generation of mobile networks, 5G, will use higher frequency radio waves than its predecessor, 4G. The new 5G will enable nearly 20 times faster data transfer than 4G.

Radio waves are electromagnetic radiation. The higher the frequency of this radiation, the more energy is transferred, and the more potential it has to harm our bodies. Ultraviolet rays from the Sun are high-frequency and can be dangerous. X-rays and gamma rays even more so.

On the safer side of the spectrum, infrared radiation is lower frequency than visible light, microwaves even lower, and radio communication waves lower still – meaning less energy, and less potential to cause harm. 5G radio waves will have a maximum frequency of 86GHz, which is within the radio spectrum and is hence considered safe.

Scientists have stated that the link between 5G and the coronavirus outbreak is "complete rubbish" and biologically impossible.

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Sara RigbyOnline staff writer, BBC Science Focus

Sara is the online staff writer at BBC Science Focus. She has an MPhys in mathematical physics and loves all things space, dinosaurs and dogs.


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