ELIMINATING the driver would result in fewer incidents on the roads, but although that might be an aim for the next generation, not something that is going to happen overnight, but it is something vehicle manufacturers are working towards.
One of the latest innovations towards that aim is the so-called “connected car”, which, by means of a variety of computerised components, effectively gives the driver a “sixth sense”, according to the developers.
Through the latest 5G (fifth generation of mobile phone connectivity) technology, it is possible to provide predictive information to drivers to “streamline and improve their decisions”. The urban infrastructure, other vehicles , and even other road users, can all feed information to vehicles, which can be assessed and calculated in a fraction of a second, and, according to the test data, “with 5G technology at the wheel, the risk of accidents could be reduced by 68%”.
By traditional driving methods, the vehicle can only respond to information observed by the driver, but by using the technology already available, “the car will receive information about the urban environment before the driver sees it,” according to César de Marco, responsible for the 5G Connected Car project at SEAT. The connected car is able to detect pedestrians, cyclists and obstacles, so that drivers get predictive information that allows them to improve their decisions and react in a shorter time.
For example, pedestrians are detected by the presence sensors connected to the traffic lights. These already exist and are used in some places of Spain, warning drivers in advance through “intelligent” road signs. “The information can now be sent to the 5G network and then to the vehicle so that it informs the driver. In the case of cyclists, since they move faster, we can use other technologies, such as electronic devices added to the bike and small indicators on the urban infrastructure to accurately detect the presence of the bicycle,” says Marco.
According to EU data, more than 80% of pedestrian and cyclist incidents involve another vehicle, such as cars, trucks and buses. With the arrival of 5G technology, the risk of incidents could be reduced by 65-68%, according to studies by the international association 5GAA.