How 5G Could Make Driving Safer

High-tech on the road

Key Takeaways

  • Honda and Verizon are teaming up to figure out how to use 5G in vehicles. 
  • Experts say 5G will enable cars to talk to each other and improve pedestrians’ devices, making it safer for all. 
  • However, more data in cars means more risks like cybersecurity and data privacy issues.
The view from the backseat of a car toward a driver with a data graphic overlaying the dashboard.

Capuski / Getty Images

Honda and Verizon are working on figuring out how to use 5G in future vehicles, and experts say it would make driving a whole lot safer. 

There already are safety features in some vehicles like rear cross-traffic alerts, collision warnings, and automatic emergency braking, but Honda and Verizon want to further those features in cars using 5G connectivity.

While their work is in the early stages, the companies are hoping that, if 5G ever is implemented in vehicles, it would provide greater safety for everyone on the road. 

"If the project eventually comes to fruition, then 5G and mobile edge computing will significantly improve the coordination of self-driving cars and maximize their road safety," Ivan Kot, a solution consultant at Itransition, wrote to Lifewire in an email. 

Safer Driving 

While this isn’t the first time Honda has explored the idea of using 5G in vehicles, the preliminary research the automaker is now undertaking could prove super helpful for drivers down the road. 

Faheem Gill, the CEO and co-founder of Keemut, said that Honda used cellular vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication with its SAFE SWARM demo in 2019

"This technology used something called DSRC (Dedicated Short Range Communication), which was on the 5.9Ghz spectrum," Gill wrote to Lifewire in an email. 

"Now Honda (and the auto industry as a whole) will be looking at 5G for the low latency to have cars communicate to one another."

Honda and Verizon said they plan to further develop this SAFE SWARM project, using 5G to reduce the need for artificial intelligence in vehicles. In an ideal world, the technology would allow cars to communicate with one another more quickly.

“The technology enables cars to talk to each other and the road infrastructure, pedestrians’ devices, and even smart buildings, and, using in-built computers, calibrate their course based on this information,” Kot said. 

The companies say the technology potentially could help increase the safety of pedestrian crossings, and warn drivers about approaching emergency vehicles, as well as vehicles running a red light at an intersection. 

"You have all the same issues you have been talking about for a while: cybersecurity, data privacy, competition."

The research will help further the development of autonomous vehicles and fleet vehicles that could benefit from the inclusion of 5G.

"An increasing importance to think about are municipalities that drive thousands of busses or cable companies that operate thousands of trucks," Peter Cassat, a partner at Culhane Meadows with a background in the auto industry, told Lifewire over the phone. 

"5G will help drivers get the most efficient routes—there are lots of opportunities there." 

Road Bumps Ahead

With increased data comes increased risks to drivers, experts say.

"You have all the same issues you have been talking about for a while: cybersecurity, data privacy, competition," Cassat said. 

"These types of issues are just becoming more heightened as you’re talking about the richness of the data." 

There’s already a lot of data in your vehicle. According to Statista, modern cars can generate up to 25 gigabytes of data per hour, measuring things like performance, location, driving behavior, and physical parameters, often multiple times per second.

A driver's view inside a card looking at a digital dashboard display on the windshield.

Coneyl Jay / Getty Images

For autonomous vehicles to actually be safe and reliable, automakers need access to data—everything from the roads you drive on to your driving habits. Cassat added that consumers might think they are in control of all that data, but that’s not the case. 

"Ownership is a loose term and one that’s not necessarily useful when you’re talking about data privacy," he said. "Manufacturers are in control of that data."

According to Consumer Reports, manufacturers such as BMW, General Motors, Nissan, Tesla, and Toyota are selling vehicles with data connections to gather a detailed portrait of both the car and the driver.

Like with our smartphones or social media, we’ll soon have to worry about cars getting hacked and the risks associated with that, Cassatt said, instead of just enjoying the ride.

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