South Korea: 5G self-driving cars successfully demonstrate “cooperative driving”

In K-City, the pilot city for self-driving located in Hwaseong, two 5G self-driving cars successfully ran “cooperative driving,” where traffic information was effectively shared between the two vehicles. The information was made public recently by SK Telecom and Korean Transportation Safety Authority (TS).

The two 5G network connected autonomous cars were co-developed by SK Telecom and TS for the demonstration. During the trial driving, two vehicles utilized a 5G vehicle communication technology, V2X (Vehicle to Everything), 3D HD map, a deep-learning-based decision-making technology to communicate each other and to share traffic information with the control center and traffic lights. In the end, the vehicles safely completed driving on K-City’s some 2-km track which included a school zone, crossroads, and a highway.

It is known that in partnership with TS and Samsung Electronics, SK Telecom deployed 5G network using 28 GHz ultra-high frequency broadband in every corner of K-City that covers an area of 360,000? last December. Traffic-related infrastructure such as CCTVs, traffic lights have been linked to self-driving cars and control centers through 5G technology.

This is the first time that multiple number of 5G self-driving cars ran in coordination while monitoring each other’s route and road safety. The series of events that took place during the trials are as follows:

  • When the cars perceived a school zone area, they automatically slowed down. When a life-size model of a child appeared on the road, a CCTV set up to a streetlight immediately sent a message using 5G technology to the nearby self-driving vehicle.
  • Upon receiving the message, the vehicle instantly stopped and started driving only after it was confirmed that the model was not on the road. This showed that SK Telecom’s 5G technology’s ultra-low-latency of less than 1ms of response time can help prevent traffic accidents.
  • The vehicles received information on highway constructions using 5G technology from the control center and reset the driving route.
  • They also raised speed to 60km/h when they entered the highway. At the time of multiple vehicle collisions, the preceding vehicle sent an instant report of the accident via 5G network to the car behind and to the control center. This allowed the car behind to drop its speed and change its lane and safely drive through the accident scene.
  • When two cars were simultaneously at the crossroads with no traffic sign, they communication was made via 5G network both between the vehicles and with the control center to decide which one to first pass through the congested area.
  • The self-driving car communicated more than 100 times a second using 5G network with the control center and another vehicle to successfully minimize the risk of accidents on the road.
  • For the demonstration, an HD map that precisely depicted nearby traffic signs and lights, and information on K-City’s driving lanes within some-cm accuracy was adopted.

The company also showcased its self-driving electric bus and 5G HD map-producing vehicle on the site. The company said that it will introduce its self-driving technology on the nation’s highways utilizing 5G network from 2019.

SK Telecom has also co-developed AI technology that helps self-driving cars make decisions on its own with Seoul National University and Nvidia. With the technology, autonomous cars can make decisions ranging from changing lanes and controlling speed, to making detour, based on information and AI analysis obtained via 5G network.

The company also plans to deploy its quantum technology-based security module on autonomous vehicles. Quantum security module can prevent out-side attempt to hack communications between self-driving cars and the control center or IoT devices.


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