How 5G Could Change your Commute

Have you found yourself stuck in traffic lately? The average Maryland commuter spends 32 minutes getting to and from work each way, with 14.4% spending over an hour. As our global cities and rural areas alike grow in population, it’s more important than ever to find ways to ease commuting times and traffic congestion. One potential solution could arise along with 5G technology. What is 5G? It’s the next logical progression up from current 4G networks. Imagine how speedy our current networks are, and then imagine this growing exponentially. Lightning-fast speeds could enable a whole new era of connected machines, which in turn will change your commute. Here are a few ways that this could work.

1. Your car can provide real-time updates.

One of the first ways that your commute could change is in what your in-car experience will be like. If cars are able to connect to super-fast 5G networks on the road, they can provide a wealth of new information beyond today’s infotainment. Expect your car to become your own personal concierge, scheduling your calendar, automatically emailing your colleagues when you’re running behind schedule, and rerouting the car when there’s traffic.

2. Traffic lights will be connected.

On-road infrastructure could also change with the arrival of 5G networking. Traffic lights already use environmental sensors as well as timers to control their patterns, but if they become connected to the internet they could respond to one another. This will help streamline the flow of traffic, preventing blockages. For example, if one traffic light senses a change in regular patterns, it could alert the others by connecting to the same network.

3. Drones can assist with highway management.

Drones are another type of technology that could become more autonomous with the use of 5G. Drones already are used to monitor traffic patterns over highways, but with increased capabilities they could also be used for public safety. They could serve as first responders in an emergency situation, particularly in remote locations where there wouldn’t necessarily be a police officer on the scene for some time. A drone would be able to immediately assess the damage and then connect to the network to call for help on your behalf.

4. Vehicles will drive themselves.

One of the most-hyped yet consistently most exciting uses of 5G and the Internet of Things is the arrival of self-driving cars. Technology like 5G from Nokia Networks could help usher in this new era, which is already being tested by Google and other tech giants. Self-driving cars are just the tip of the iceberg, as public transportation could also become fully automated. In Stockholm, there were recently trials of driverless buses conducted by Ericsson to test out how this could work in an urban setting. By connecting all vehicles on the road, the transition from point A to B could be conducted in a smoother, more efficient manner.

5. Intelligent Transport Systems can predict the flow of traffic.

Finally, many areas are currently experimenting with intelligent transport systems or ITS to improve the overall commuting experience. The use of 5G will accelerate these capabilities, by allowing connected sensors to analyse commuting patterns using real-time data. Vehicle platooning is one example of this, creating a convoy of vehicles travelling very close to one another with coordinated movements. This could boost the number of vehicles allowed on the road during peak commuting times, but it requires a network that’s up to the challenge.

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