SK Telecom today announced the completion of the world's first successful 5G self-driving test involving multiple autonomous vehicles. The trial was conducted on Monday in South Korea's K-City, a fake town built exclusively for the purposes of experimenting with driverless transportation technologies. SK Telecom's test involved two self-driving vehicles which engaged in "cooperative driving," navigating the streets of the pilot city while simultaneously sharing data with each other in real time via a fifth-generation mobile network. The project was completed in cooperation with the Korean Transportation Safety Authority and is labeled as a notable achievement for the country's tech industry that's seeking to ramp up its efforts to commercialize self-driving cars in the coming years.
The experiment was designed to stress-test a number of perceived weaknesses of individual autonomous vehicles involved in the project, having attempted to trick one of them into running over a fake child that suddenly appeared in its blind spot. However, the model was accurately detected by a CCTV system installed on a nearby streetlight which communicated that data with the automobile, prompting it to stop when it received an alert over SK Telecom's 5G connection which also helped generate an HD map to visualize what happened to the vehicle's riders. The researchers demonstrated a number of other capabilities of their self-driving solutions, including their native speed limits that make the cars slow down whenever they enter a designated school zone area. The two 5G vehicles involved in the test also communicated with each other on entirely unmarked crossroads to decide on the right of way. Those and other tests were touted by SK Telecom as major evidence proving its technology is already capable of delivering ultra-high wireless Internet speeds and extremely low response times allowing autonomous cars to receive feedback from their connected environment and other traffic participants and react to it in a real-time manner, thus minimizing the risk of accidents.
On average, the two test vehicles communicated over a hundred times every second using the experimental 5G network set up in the area. SK Telecom is planning to bring its 5G-ready self-driving solutions to the country's largest highways starting next year, the wireless carrier said only a day after its rival KT joined Samsung to unveil the company's first 5G tablet.