Table of contents
- About IoT
- What is autonomous driving technology?
- Expectations for autonomous driving technology using IoT
- Advantages of autonomous driving technology
- Challenges towards realizing autonomous driving technology
- IoT accelerated by 5G
- What is 5G?
- The future of 5G and autonomous driving technology
IoT is an abbreviation for “Internet of Things” and can be translated into Japanese as “Internet of Things.” Traditionally, communication devices that connect to the Internet have been limited to IT devices such as computers and smartphones. On the other hand, with IoT, various things connect to the Internet and communicate with each other, making it possible to control, monitor, analyze, and remotely operate devices. IoT is expected to be used not only at the personal level of daily life such as operating home appliances, but also in a variety of fields such as manufacturing , transportation, entertainment, and medicine.
What is autonomous driving technology?
Autonomous driving technology is a technology in which machines operate vehicles autonomously. However, the term “automated driving” does not simply refer to technology in which a machine operates 100% of the time without a human at the wheel. In Japan, the Cabinet Office has divided autonomous driving into five levels:
- Level 0 (no driving automation): Driver performs all maneuvers
- Level 1 (driving support): The machine performs limited maneuvering in either the vertical or horizontal direction.
- Level 2 (partial automation): The machine performs limited operations in both vertical and horizontal directions.
- Level 3 (conditional driving automation): The machine does all the maneuvering. Humans operate only when requested by the machine.
- Level 4 (Advanced Driving Automation): Machines basically do all the maneuvering, but humans do the driving only under certain circumstances, such as when entering small residential areas.
- Level 5 (Full Automation): The machine performs all operations in any situation without restriction.
Of these, up to level 2 the main driver is a human, and from level 3 onwards it is a machine. Currently, commercially available cars in Japan are capable of level 2 autonomous driving.
In autonomous driving, the role of IoT and AI (artificial intelligence) is also important. Using IoT technology, data such as vehicle location information and driving information is uploaded to the cloud at any time. The AI then analyzes that data and sends the results back to the car. Then, based on the data returned from the AI, autonomous driving can be performed more precisely according to the situation. Autonomous driving also utilizes other technologies related to image processing and security.
Expectations for autonomous driving technology using IoT
So, what are the specific benefits and challenges of IoT and autonomous driving? Let’s take a look at them one by one.
Advantages of autonomous driving technology
There are various possible benefits of autonomous driving. For example, if autonomous driving becomes a reality, the burden on drivers and the risk of accidents will be significantly reduced.
Recently, accidents caused by the elderly have become a social problem, but if autonomous driving becomes a reality, this concern will be minimized. Self-driving cars should also provide a stable means of transportation for elderly people living in rural areas where public transportation is scarce. We can look forward to the arrival of a convenient motorized society where everyone can feel secure.
We are also aiming to realize a congestion mitigation system using IoT and AI. First, it collects and analyzes information on road congestion, construction, etc. in real time and sends it to vehicles traveling in various locations. Each car is capable of more optimized autonomous driving based on the data it receives. As a result, the entire traffic flow in a certain area can be smoothly controlled.
Furthermore, by collecting and analyzing data from various vehicles being driven, the discovery and sharing of know-how to prevent accidents will be facilitated. It would also be possible to alert drivers in advance in areas where traffic accidents occur frequently.
In addition, functions such as monitoring the status of vehicles, inspecting and notifying them as appropriate, and dispatching commercial vehicles unmanned are also expected. Utilizing IoT, it is also possible to prevent car theft and automatically notify hospitals and fire departments in the event of an accident.
Challenges towards realizing autonomous driving technology
There are many expectations for autonomous driving and the use of IoT, but there are many challenges to realizing them.
Self-driving cars that utilize IoT connect to various devices and the cloud via the Internet, so security risks are always present.
For example, let’s assume that a car suffers a cyber attack and loses control, causing an accident. At this time, there is a risk that it may not be possible to determine whether the cause of the accident was the driver, a malfunction in the car, or an external attack. This is because the criminal may erase the traces of a cyber attack. To prevent such situations, it is essential to build a strong security system when using IoT.
Even if there is no cyber attack, if an accident occurs, it is inevitable that there will be a debate over who is responsible. Is the responsibility on the driver or the machine? In determining this, the level of automated driving mentioned earlier also has a large influence.
Furthermore, if a vehicle equipped with a Level 4 or Level 5 advanced automated driving system causes an accident, who is responsible, the manufacturer or the driver? In order to make such quick and clear decisions, it is necessary to take the time to develop legislation.
IoT accelerated by 5G
The emergence of 5G technology is also essential to promoting autonomous driving technology through IoT. Without 5G, self-driving cars will not be able to drive on public roads. From here, we will start with the basics of what 5G is, and explain how it relates to autonomous driving and IoT utilization.
What is 5G?
5G is an abbreviation for “5th Generation” and refers to a new generation communication technology that will replace the previous 4G. Commercialization of 5G communications began in 2020. While 4G only used frequencies below 3.6GHz, 5G uses the 3.6GHz to 6GHz band and even the 28GHz band. Advances in communication technology have made it possible to take advantage of these high frequency bands, which is why 5G is making great progress.
Three keywords are often used to describe the main features of 5G: “high speed/large capacity,” “low latency,” and “multiple connections.” First of all, “high speed and large capacity” refers to a dramatic improvement in communication speed compared to before. In terms of maximum communication speed, 4G had a maximum of 1Gbps, but 5G is said to increase the speed to a maximum of 20Gbps. With 5G, you will be able to download large videos in no time.
The next term “low latency” refers to low delay in communication. With 5G, communication delays can be reduced to about one-tenth of what they were before. Since there is almost no communication time lag, it becomes possible to perform extremely precise remote operations with no room for error. For example, it will no longer be uncommon for doctors in cities to perform surgeries on patients in rural areas using robots.
Finally, “multiple connections” means that a large number of devices can be connected at the same time. By utilizing 5G, for example, it will be possible to connect hundreds or thousands of sensors to a single base station at the same time in a factory.
If multiple connections are achieved, it will be possible to connect many home appliances and even objects with sensors attached to them and remotely control them. Of course, you will be able to operate home appliances from outside, but that’s not all. A future where a sensor responds to automatically open the curtains and pour coffee into your cup in the morning is no pipe dream.
The future of 5G and autonomous driving technology
5G is an essential technology for the realization of autonomous driving using IoT. For example, autonomous driving requires downloading and updating of 3D map data, which is much more detailed than conventional car navigation systems. Even such large amounts of data can be processed quickly with 5G communication.
It is also necessary to exchange data with the cloud in real time while moving at high speed. We cannot afford to delay this. Even a tenth of a second delay in receiving data can lead to an accident. Therefore, the low latency feature of 5G is important.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications aims to use 5G to develop technologies such as “vehicle-to-vehicle communication,” “road-to-vehicle communication,” and “pedestrian-to-vehicle communication.” This is a concept that aims to safely optimize the overall flow of traffic by having each vehicle running on the road, as well as pedestrians and bicycles, exchange information in real time. Along with this concept, the aim is to realize a society where connected cars (connected cars ) are commonplace.
If autonomous driving becomes practical through IoT, the burden on drivers will be significantly reduced. The sharing of know-how to prevent accidents is progressing, and congestion is expected to be alleviated. For its practical application, 5G communication is essential, as it has high speed, large capacity, low latency, and enables multiple simultaneous connections. Along with these communication technologies and the establishment of strong security and legal frameworks, autonomous driving is progressing towards becoming a reality.