Mobile Devices

Verizon ports 5G to University of Michigan’s self-driving vehicle test facility

12 September 2019
The Mcity facility on the campus of University of Michigan is testing safety for self-driving vehicles. Source: University of Michigan

Verizon has made its 5G network live on the campus of the University of Michigan in its Mcity test facility where the university is testing autonomous vehicles and smart cities.

Verizon has already started working on ways to use 5G’s fast speed and low latency outside of just accelerating downloads on smartphones. The company has already started pushing for new ways to improve emergency services through 5G using the fast speeds to help patients and improve response times.

The Mcity facility is also working on ways for autonomous vehicles to boost pedestrian safety and to avoid car accidents by outfitting cars with sensors that can talk to other cars to help avoid accidents. Additionally, cameras connected to traffic light signals can protect people walking or biking by signaling to self-driving cars their location.

The Mcity facility sits on a 32-acre site on the University of Michigan’s North Campus Research Complex with more than 16 acres of roads and traffic infrastructure. The outdoor laboratory supports both urban and suburban vehicle environments.

Verizon is just one of many companies involved in Mcity’s development and research. Other companies include LG Electronics, General Motors, State Farm and more.

“Testing new technologies in a safe, controlled environment is essential before deploying automated vehicles on public streets and highways,” said Greg McGuire, associate director at Mcity. “Verizon 5G ultra wideband can have a profound impact on smart vehicle technology. By giving the companies who are testing here access to Verizon’s 5G network, we’re hoping they can improve on their existing technology and potentially create applications that don’t even exist yet to make our roads and intersections safer.”

The goal of using autonomous vehicles and 5G to make the roads safer stems from the roughly 4.5 million people who were injured in car accidents in 2018. About 94% of these accidents were the result of human error. Using new technologies such as 5G and self-driving vehicles could potentially lower the number of injuries and fatalities each year with vehicles communicating on the 5G network with massive bandwidth, latency and speed.

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