As 5G comes into being, we can expect a plethora of applications that will make our lives more enjoyable. This new advancement in mobile communication systems with its sharp reduction in latency will fuel a wide range of breakthroughs, such as connected mobility applications. With this demo, we would like to demonstrate how 5G can enable smarter transportation.
What is a platoon of vehicles?
Vehicle platoons are a group of vehicles that act as one unit on the road by coordinating their movements. The purpose is to increase road throughput. Platoons allow for accelerating or braking of many cars or trucks simultaneously, and by reducing the distance between them. In addition to allowing for closer headway between vehicles, this system eliminates the human reaction time. A vehicle at the front of the platoon controls the speed. The following vehicles then drive in a single-file line behind the first vehicle and stay in close proximity on the highway. Smart cars with artificial intelligence could automatically join and leave platoons.
What is the point of forming platoons of self-driving cars?
The consequences of traffic jams are evident to anyone who has ever been stuck in one, but when the volume is higher, each additional vehicle inhibits the movement of the others. There are many factors that contribute to traffic congestion, but friction between vehicles and how drivers react to unforeseen situations are the two most important ones. In the event of a front-wheel vehicle decelerating or accelerating, the changes in speed propagate backwards, generally becoming even larger further down the line, leading to a reduction in road traffic flow. This is called the accordion effect. As the cars restart moving, seconds are added in between, which reduces the road's capacity. The similarities between the vehicles and the musical instrument are evident: as the first vehicle moves, the line of vehicles forms like an accordion.
Time lost, delays and difficulties in forecasting travel times and costs, fuel wasted, pollution added, vehicle wear and tear caused by frequent acceleration and braking, as well as drivers' and passengers' frustration are just a few of the difficulties caused by the accordion effect.
However, through connectivity between cars and formation of a platoon between the cars has the potential to increase significantly road throughput, safety and reduction in travel time. Traffic management systems can be improved by having clusters of vehicles rather than individual vehicles to increase capacity and safety on the road.