The deployment of 5G networks, which could be as much as 10 times more efficient than 4G networks, has the potential to significantly improve the safety of self-driving cars, according to market research firm Gartner.
The reliability and low latency that 5G networks promise could lead to the safe execution of human-led remote control of autonomous vehicles, said Jonathan Davenport, senior research analyst at Gartner.
"AVs (autonomous vehicle) periodically face a set of conditions they cannot immediately navigate, which results in the need for a vehicle-human handover," explained Davenport.
"This handover deactivates the autonomous mode and hands over control to a human driver " but such a hand over is not always possible. One potential solution for these scenarios where a hand over to the human driver fails is to use remote pilots," he added.
"Human pilots can be the recipient of a planned remote hand over or help recover an AV that has become stuck," Davenport added.
Once initiated, the technology would allow human technicians in remote facilities to assess live video feeds and vehicle diagnostics from the AV and take over driving control virtually.
With the new level of network capability that 5G could provide, communications service providers (CSPs) can secure future market opportunities with manufacturers of AVs in the fields of driver safety and data processing and management, Gartner said.
"CSPs have an opportunity to become strategic partners for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) by applying 5G capabilities to address AV OEM data growth," Davenport said.
CSPs must act now to secure future market opportunities by ensuring that 5G is part of the AV design process, Gartner said, adding that original equipment manufacturers will need comprehensive end-to-end data solutions to streamline their management of data connectivity, storage and analytics.
However, in the next five years, 5G will generate only limited benefits for Avs, according to the forecast by the market research firm.
"By design, AVs cannot rely on mobile networks such as 5G for core functionality, but must utilize multiple technologies to meet performance and safety design objectives," Davenport added.
"Nevertheless, 5G networks will play a crucial role in handling the massive amounts of data generated by AVs and their users for all kinds of purposes, including safety, connectivity and entertainment," he said.
The latest edition of the Ericsson Mobility Report released this month said that North America is expected to lead the 5G uptake, with all major US operators planning to roll out 5G between late 2018 and mid-2019.