How 5G is paving the way for driverless vehicles

Some would argue that it’s an intrinsic part of human instinct to be wary of change. There’s something inside all of us which can be instinctively nervous about the concept of autonomous vehicles and there are some key questions which the industry is working hard to answer in order to allay these concerns. What, if any, degree of human oversight is required? How will autonomous and traditional vehicles co-exist? And most crucially, how can we guarantee safety?

This school of thought often mistakenly assumes that the current situation is preferable or even perfect, which is far from the truth. Humans will always be fallible, and are subject to factors such as fatigue and distractions – neither of which are an issue for autonomous vehicles. Today, more than 1.2 million people die every year on the world’s roads. A 2015 note from the US Department of Transport concluded that the causal factor for some 94% of crashes was attributed to drivers. And according to World Health Organisation figures, road traffic injuries are the leading cause of death among young people aged 15–29 years.

Improved road safety is a significant advantage for the driverless car over human-controlled vehicles, but the potential benefits don’t end there. Autonomous vehicles will also reduce congestion and emissions, by enabling more cars to safely occupy a certain piece of road and by reducing the unnecessary braking and accelerating caused by congestion – a major cause of vehicle emissions.

There is little doubt that this vision is hugely exciting and has great potential to change our world for the better. But the question remains of how we deliver this brave new world in the safest possible manner.

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