Our latest blog post series explores how 5G private networks are revolutionising industries—with increased performance, flexibility, reliability, and security enabling autonomous vehicles, digital twins, and the factory of the future.
We’re kicking things off with a look at how autonomous vehicles are shaking up industries.
Autonomous vehicles are set to transform more than just roads
Autonomous and remotely driven vehicles are transforming labour-intensive industries such as agriculture, mining, construction, and manufacturing. And they’re making it safer for people working in these environments.
Autonomous dump trucks keep mining operations going 24/7, without the risk of driver fatigue. Self-driving tractors can increase crop yield through more accurate planting and harvesting. And autonomous guided vehicles can minimise the potential for injury because manufacturing workers don’t have to carry heavy objects across factory floors.
Building a network today, for an autonomous tomorrow
Autonomous and autonomous guided vehicles generate huge amounts of data, which must be sent continuously back and forth between vehicle and network. Any connection loss, and they’re unable to function autonomously. To prevent this, you need a fast, reliable network that offers low latency, high security, and supports vastly more devices.
Today’s Wi-Fi just won’t cut it in the autonomous future
Speed and performance count, and while Wi-Fi 6, the latest specification for Wi-Fi, is theoretically capable of up to around 10Gbps, performance is unpredictable and unstable—especially in high-population areas where a greater number of connected users and devices are fighting for bandwidth. 5G private networks consistently deliver 10Gbps, so it can easily handle the large data volumes generated and transmitted by autonomous vehicles.
To operate safely, autonomous vehicles require continuous communication with the network. While Wi-Fi 6 can achieve latency of less than 10ms, there are no guarantees, as users and devices compete for access to shared channels. But with a 5G private network, you’ll consistently experience less than 10ms of latency—even as low as 1ms.
“5G’s biggest advantage over Wi-Fi is that it supports connections to fast-moving assets—such as autonomous vehicles.”
Any interference affects the ability of your autonomous vehicles to function. As Wi-Fi uses an unlicensed spectrum, your network is impacted by how many users are connected at any one time. But 5G private networks operate on licenced spectrums, so only your organisation gets to operate on your part of the spectrum in a particular location. You won’t need to compete with other networks and devices.
It's vital that, as you increase the use of connected vehicles and devices, you maintain performance. 5G supports up to a million devices per km2, whereas the number of connections on a Wi-Fi 6 network depends on the bandwidth required by each device.
5G’s biggest advantage over Wi-Fi is that it supports connections to fast-moving assets—such as autonomous vehicles. Unlike Wi-Fi, 5G enables seamless handover between access points, and provides maximum performance, even when moving between indoors and outdoors. 5G also maintains connections in metallic environments, like factories, over large areas, which Wi-Fi struggles to do.
5G-enabled autonomous vehicles in action
“5G private networks can deliver the fast connections, low latency, low interference, and high reliability needed to make autonomous vehicles a viable option for organisations that operate across large campus environments, both indoors and outdoors.”
The manufacturer Whirlpool found that driverless vehicles in one of its Ohio factories stopped moving whenever the Wi-Fi signal degraded. This created traffic jams, slowed down production, and required manual intervention to get them running.
As an early adopter of 5G private networks, the factory is testing the viability of connecting its vehicles to on-premises 5G. Today, the factory uses around 100 vehicles, only a few of which are driverless. But after seeing success with 5G, it now expects around 80% of its vehicles to become driverless once its 5G network is fully operational.
5G private networks are ready. Are you?
5G private networks can deliver the fast connections, low latency, low interference, and high reliability needed to make autonomous vehicles a viable option for organisations that operate across large campus environments, both indoors and outdoors.
“5G private networks mean that all sorts of industries—like manufacturing, shipping, farming, and mining—can fully benefit from autonomous vehicles.”
It means that all sorts of industries—like manufacturing, shipping, farming, and mining—can fully benefit from autonomous vehicles.
Read the second part of this three-part series to see how 5G private networks are laying the foundation for digital twins.