In an industry conference in Barcelona, two major telecoms companies admitted that a new world of remote-controlled cars is now technically possible using wireless technologies which are set to be commonplace early in the next decade.
Telefonica, the Spanish networks operator and Ericsson, the Swedish network equipment maker jointly demonstrated how a car could be remotely controlled around obstacles on a test track located 70 kilometers away in Tarragona using wireless networks.
In a demonstration, at the Europe’s biggest annual industry gathering, the Mobile World Congress, a driver of the car took the wheel from the floor of the Fira conference center in Barcelona.
This remote test drive was placed on the latest mobile networks which are controlled in the cloud and are capable of the quick response times and high data-rates to make split-second driving decisions from afar.
Is will be a joint venture of Ericsson and Telefonica in partnership with KTH, Sweden’ths Royal Institute of Technology, and vehicle safety testing company Idiada to organize the demonstration.
Javier Lorca, head of innovation in wireless access networks at Telefonica explained using state-of-the-art wireless networks to remotely control vehicles at a distance has many possible applications, ranging from electric fleets traversing university campuses and even, eventually for widescale public transport.
But there is a caution to be taken, he said, for the near term, such applications would require traveling only within closed-circuit, predictable routes and in situations where it is otherwise impractical for the driver to be seated behind the wheel of the vehicle itself.
5G, or fifth-generation, wireless networks, which are expected to begin to become mainstream around the world in the years after 2020, are demonstrated in the event.
Telefonica stated in a statement that current, so-called 4.5G networks could handle most of these demands. The company has invested 38 billion euros in the last five years to reach millions of homes with it higher-speed fiber fixed-line broadband network, which it considers to be crucial to 5G.