5G in the Movement of People

The demand for our transport systems is growing at an extraordinary rate

The most common form of transportation worldwide is road transport, with three-quarters of passengers globally travelling by private car. There are an estimated 1.3 billion cars on the roads today, which is set to double by 2050. With private petrol and diesel cars having the worst carbon footprints per kilometre travelled after domestic flights, this is causing ever greater levels of congestion and air pollution, particularly in our urban areas. As for buses, though local journeys in England were down 50% to 2.12 billion in the year ending December 2020, this trend could be bucked if projected reductions in operational costs can be passed on to the customer and services grow in quality, frequency and coverage.  

Train passengers have doubled in the last 20 years, and this number is set to multiply again before 2045. The current UK rail infrastructure, which consists of around 20,000 miles of track, was not designed for this. And it’s not just on the ground that pressure is increasing. While the aviation industry suffered amid Covid-19, passenger demand is bouncing back and predicted to grow 1.4% a year until 2050. 

So, how are we going to cater for this transport growth? We cannot simply build more roads, tracks or runways. Engineering, innovation and of course, technology will be key. More specifically, advanced connectivity solutions including 5G — with high bandwidth, low latency, capacity for network slicing, increased density of connected devices, ease of data sharing and guaranteed coverage — provide the means for real-time monitoring, smarter transport systems, more efficient, reliable resources and the ability to shift people to less carbon-intensive transport methods. 

Once considered merely 'nice to have', connectivity is rapidly becoming a critical part of transportation systems.

Movement of People Applications

Optimised Traveller Experience

For public transport services to work effectively and match passenger expectations, they need ubiquitous and reliable connectivity. Existing infrastructure across the country cannot handle the speed and volume required to support developments such as barrier-free travel, real-time monitoring, improved passenger processing, baggage handling and crowd management. Further complicating this is the retirement of 2G and 3G networks, which is likely to impact short-term coverage in the UK. In 2019, 873 billion transport passenger kilometres were travelled in Britain; high bandwidth and ultra-reliable connectivity, such as that offered by 5G, is the answer to a seamless travel experience. 

When will this be available? View our predicted timeline here.

Working with West Midlands Metro and GoMedia, WM5G explored how 5G connected trams can create better passenger experiences aboard the region’s public transport. Trams collect a variety of valuable information, including CCTV footage and tram performance and maintenance data. Historically, this information has been accessed and downloaded manually, outside hours of operation. To hasten this process, the team equipped a tram with a 5G solution from Icomera. The increased bandwidth offered by 5G allowed high-definition CCTV footage captured on the tram to be securely and remotely transferred to the Regional Traffic Control Centre while in operation.

Confidence in public transport took a hit amid Covid-19 but there are many factors that can impact willingness to use services, such as broken air conditioning, damaged seats and anti-social behaviour. Traditionally reporting these issues has been difficult and can discourage passengers from choosing public transport options. But the deployment of a 5G-enabled reporting process ensures passengers can feel safe and satisfied with their journeys. Issues can be shared in real-time, through urgent notifications sent to onboard staff and the Regional Transport Coordination Centre. The onboard connectivity can also be used by passengers to further improve and optimise their travelling experience.

Navigation around high-density places, such as train and bus stations, can be difficult for vulnerable passengers or those requiring extra assistance. TRAVEL XR seeks to improve the current operating systems using 5G’s higher capacity for camera data and locational accuracies. Utilising wearables, cameras and Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, the network is able to detect people in walkways and enable systems to offer guidance within stations, ultimately improving passenger safety and experience. 

WM5G also used a 5G network to manage passenger numbers at stations and onboard transport, which can help improve passenger comfort. 5G-enabled video data learning was harnessed to boost traveller experience, through enhanced accuracy of occupancy assessment to provide better information to travellers and operators. While the project was delivered on buses, it could be extended to other services, such as tram and rail. 

Connectivity on public transport can also be used to differentiate services. In a UK first, Virgin Trains tested 5G-powered Wi-Fi on trains: customers can expect speeds up to ten times faster than what they are currently accustomed to. The London underground will have a full 5G coverage by the end of 2024, Telefonica Deutschland, Ericsson and Vantage Towers have joined forces to provide high-quality 5G connectivity across Germany’s rail network, and other 5G deployments are also happening across the world including the BART system in San Francisco and the entire transport network in Alba Iulia, Romania.  Reinforcing the need for high bandwidth connectivity in rail settings, Ofcom’s independent advice to the Government outlined the requirements of a future connected rail journey.  Their assessment was that a busy mainline train might need in the region of 1 Gbit/s, and a crowded commuter train between 2-3 Gbit/s, when looking over a ten-year time horizon. This represents a ten-fold increase in average data consumption per passenger compared to 2017 and would enable almost half of the passengers on a train to connect and stream high-definition videos simultaneously; or 10% of passengers to play online games at the same time, whilst a further 30% stream videos (with over half of these watching in high definition and the others in standard definition), and a further 25% browse web pages whilst simultaneously listening to streamed music. 

In Scotland, 5G RailNext tested the technical capacities and creative possibilities of 5G networks in one of the toughest environments possible: the historic Glasgow underground metro system. The project used next-generation technology to supply digital connectivity in a mass transit setting — demonstrating how to improve passenger experience through the provision of rich, interactive and personalised content. This global collaboration between the UK and South Korea, who too tested the technical capabilities and creative possibilities of 5G on the busy Seoul metro, clearly shows the potential and versatility of 5G even within challenging environments. 

“We focused our efforts on testing the suitability of mid-range frequencies for achieving a high bandwidth but also long-distance coverage,” says David Crawford, a lecturer of Electronic and Electrical Engineering at the University of Strathclyde, a partner in the 5G RailNext project. “We built a demonstrator trial system to work out how to deploy the connectivity and where to put the equipment and decided on pointing the aerial down the tunnel between two stations.” 

The team then used the network to create an interactive experience, whereby customers could use virtual reality in a demonstration application where they could try on shoes from fashion brands. “This is something that was not possible before,” says Crawford. “You need really strong connectivity.”

ATG (air-to-ground) connectivity is critically important to the future of business aviation. Airspan has joined Gogo and its partners to develop one of the most disruptive 5G private networks to date.

Airbus and OneWeb have likewise developed in-flight 5G services that will enable passengers to continue using their smartphones and other devices in the air, via satellite links. US airline Delta has also signed up to the Alliance, alongside telecoms company Sprint. 

Greg Wyler, founder and executive chairman of OneWeb, said: 

"What if the best internet you ever experienced was in the air? Keeping this goal in mind, together we will enable an affordable and frictionless experience for passengers everywhere. With the launch of our first production satellites set for later this year, we're one step closer to bridging the global digital divide on land and in the air."

Aside from enabling next-level infotainment services, 5G can help to deliver streamlined journeys for passengers. In China, facial recognition is set to transform the customer airport journey. The 5G-facilitated technology (being used by China Eastern Airlines and Beijing Daxing International Airport) will dramatically shorten queuing for check-in, luggage drop-off and identity checks. An IATA survey suggests that cutting waiting time is a major passenger requirement, as 80% of passengers don’t want to wait more than three minutes to drop off their luggage or get through security and 70% are willing to share their biometric information to do so. 

Widespread 5G will also ensure air passengers experience faster and more seamless connectivity for their devices as they travel through the airport. Chengdu Tianfu International Airport has delivered the first gigabit 5G airport and is using HD cameras and AI to predict different scenarios (for example, identifying passengers who are late for boarding, predicting capacity issues for hand luggage, and detecting the owner of lost luggage). 

SITA vice president of communication and data exchange, Gilles Bloch-Morhange, says:

"Passenger process systems, such as self-service technologies and biometric ID management, connected to 5G and Wi-Fi, will benefit through the faster transmission to data."

Bloch-Morhange added, “video feeds underpinning biometric ID management systems will enable face recognition to occur in real-time – 5G will allow data to be sent back and forth to the police, border control and airlines instantaneously to give the red or green light.”

In terms of private transport, Nissan has created a 3D augmented reality interface that merges the real and virtual worlds to make information visible which the driver would not otherwise see. Supplying predictive information about the surrounding area supports a confident and enhanced driving experience. In Madrid, Telefonica has successfully delivered the world’s 5G in-car entertainment system as part of the 5G Barcelona initiative, while the Partnership Talking Traffic initiative in the Netherlands provides drivers with in-car parking information.

Closer to home, Highways England — on sections of the A2 and M2 — has similarly tested how information about road conditions and roadworks can be transmitted to test vehicles via a wireless network. Providing drivers with the information and tools to make real-time decisions will quickly improve traffic flow along the corridor and deliver an improved travel experience. It also has the potential to improve safety by providing more information about the traffic conditions ahead via screens inside vehicles and reducing the problem of obscured signs.

Enabling Multi-Modal Travel

Multi-modal travel is heralded as the future of transport, and encouraging such journeys can play an important role in the pursuit of sustainable mobility. Lucy Harper, Stations Policy Manager at the Rail Delivery Group believes stations can act as transport interchanges where “station infrastructure and timetabling is integrated with other travel modes, particularly those with low or zero carbon emissions such as walking, cycling and bus. This would support communities to overcome barriers to sustainable mobility, helping to reduce car dependency and car-orientated development, and would support the growing demand for mobility as a service (MaaS).” 

But none of this integration will matter if people find the prospect of navigating multiple transport modes too complex or daunting. 5G-powered technologies can play an important role in providing support and reassurance during multi-modal travel; from personalised guidance with real-time information about availability on different transport modes, to micro-prompts and micro-positioning across user devices providing travellers with comprehensive door-to-door information. This will enable passengers to make well-informed transport decisions and experience a seamless transport system, encouraging more users and as a result, reducing congestion and overall carbon emissions.

With WM5G, Urban Tourism 5.0 delivered a next-generation ‘Travel Assistant’ service. The rail initiative used 5G-powered sensors at stations and major venues combined with booking and travel information to create forecast and real-time traveller insights. Providing creative and engaging rich media navigation to and from venues can incentivise advanced journeys.

In Ebbw Vale in Wales, the 5G Wales Unlocked project explored how 5G can provide more cohesion across fragmented public and private transport networks in rural communities. 5G video-based services, IoT sensors and data analytics provided integrated real-time passenger information to support journey planning, provide information around parking availability, and facilitate multimodal transport.

GoMedia received funding from the Department for Transport through the £9m First of a Kind 2021 (FOAK21) competition for three projects designed to make the UK’s rail network cleaner, greener and more accessible. One of these projects specifically looked at leveraging technology to offer travellers fast and reliable help anywhere in the station.  Using augmented reality, the mobile app solution provides journey information, platform navigation and the ability for staff and passengers to locate each other when assistance is needed with in-app AR markers overlaid onto the user’s smartphone screen.



Intelligent Transport Systems

According to Gartner, the share of cars actively connected to a 5G service will grow to 94% by 2028. Ericsson predicts that the number of connected cars in operation will rise to more than 500 million in 2025. From V2X to smart junctions and traffic lights, 5G can optimise travel flow, reduce congestion and travel times, all while improving the country's overall environmental impact. Intelligent transport systems require a coordinated framework, with features that support ultra-low latency for warning signals, higher data rates for sharing sensory data between vehicles and infrastructure, high mobility, high reliability, as well as scalability. Advanced connectivity solutions, including 5G, are needed to enable the full capabilities of V2X.

WM5G deployed a number of solutions to monitor and optimise traffic throughout the West Midlands, which is home to some of the UK’s busiest and most congested roads. Firstly, vehicle counting sensors with 5G connectivity were installed on two roads in Solihull with a high variety and density of traffic, for live traffic monitoring. Thanks to 5G and its much faster upload and download speeds, one network can sustain higher-quality processing or process a greater number of feeds — creating more comprehensive datasets than those possible with 4G. The data gathered enables the development of state-of-the-art prediction models which can be used to more accurately forecast traffic flow and help to manage congestion.  

Chris Holmes, Transport Programme Director at WM5G said, “this has shown the value 5G sensors offer to road management. At the moment sources of traffic data are often limited in value and focused on specific tasks such as speed control or general congestion information. The type of sensors shown in this trial sets a new benchmark. Intelligent sensors like these enable multiple uses including live incident management through to traffic control and even capturing detailed information about lane usage which will inform road designs of the future”.


Chris Holmes, Transport Programme Director, WM5G, said:

"5G enabled sensors will provide fast and flexible deployment to assist with long term and temporary goals (of road management) such as events or even road work assistance."

Taking this a step further, the team have explored how 5G can help Transport for West Midlands understand the available capacity of their road network in near real-time. Unlike public transport operators, who have access to seat availability data on trains and buses, no such tool exists for operators across the road network​​ — making it impossible to accurately estimate the impact on the capacity of planned roadworks and public events that both disrupt traffic. The 5G Enabled Dynamic Network Capacity Manager was designed to use 5G traffic sensing data for dynamic traffic management. This enables traffic managers to optimise the road network and mitigate traffic-impacting disruption, for instance diverting buses or sending instant warnings to drivers.

Smart Junctions 5G used a private 5G network to enhance the Vivacity Labs’ Smart Junction Project — an AI-based traffic signal optimisation system, deployed in Manchester. This had already been shown to cut waiting times at traffic signals significantly, prioritise traffic by class, and respond dynamically in emerging situations. By using a 5G small cell network, the project was able to decrease the infrastructure cost for the connection of the sensors at every junction. Read their end of project report here.

Advanced connectivity enables real-time interaction between road infrastructure and the vehicles that use it.“Transport bodies will be able to manage a road network in real-time, controlling traffic lights, traffic flow and congestion through automated machine learning and artificial intelligence programmes,” Peter Claydon, project director at pioneering 5G initiative AutoAir told Raconteur.

Peter Claydon, project director at AutoAir, said:

"Alongside weather warnings and traffic updates, 5G also means receiving alerts from other smart road users. It's effectively seeing around the bend, so your car will be able to know what's arund the corner because there are other cars there sending that are sending back information."

This use of 5G enabled hive technology is equally being explored in Shanghai and Sweden where AVs will link to city-wide traffic monitoring systems that will continuously update themselves according to prevailing traffic volumes and flows. Routes can therefore be optimised for each vehicle as the system acts as a ‘hive’ with one brain. This will be especially useful for emergency vehicles, which can be prioritised, as shown by the video below.

In the Netherlands, government and industry have collaborated to deploy an intelligent transport system, in Detroit, smart traffic lights: both systems identify problems faster, optimise traffic flow, prioritise certain transport (for instance by extending green lights for cyclists) and reduce pollution by minimising inefficient stop-start driving. Geofencing technology, which enables the entry, speed and fuel use of connected vehicles in a geographic zone to be controlled digitally, can also be implemented and has been successfully demonstrated by Ericsson and Veoneer. 5G demonstrates an important step toward creating a connected and intelligent transport system through innovative digital infrastructure and shared interfaces.

“Geofencing is a crucial part of Intelligent Transport Systems, giving traffic authorities the power to make our cities safer and greener. The showcase by Veoneer and Ericsson demonstrates a secure exchange of data between vehicles and digital traffic infrastructure within a geofenced traffic zone", said Åsa Tamsons, Senior Vice President and Head of Business Area Technology & Emerging Business at Ericsson.

Asa Tamsons, Senior Vice President and Head of Business Area Technology & Emerging Business at Ericsson, said:

"With 5G, travel will become even safer and more efficient with networks automatically prioritising mission-critical communication between intelligent vehicles and infrastructure."

Air France, Groupe ADP and Ericsson are building out 5G standalone private networks at Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Paris-Orly and Paris-Le Bourget airports. The partners say they can use fast and discrete 5G connectivity to improve 25 different work processes related to the aircraft, including refuelling, maintenance, baggage handling and cleaning. Analysts have studied the Paris project and believe high-speed low latency connections will transform operations such as monitoring equipment in non-aircraft vehicles on runways; powering instant group communication to speed up activities such as refuelling; optimising workloads for transferring passengers baggage, and doing maintenance remotely via a video link.

As as a part of the Connecting Europe Facility Programme, the 5G NETC project will deploy and configure dedicated 5G coverage for transport and logistics services along highways and railway corridors in the Northern European part of the Scandinavian-Mediterranean Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) and North Sea-Baltic corridors. 5G NETC will also lay a foundation for service continuity when a vehicle crosses a member state border by improving the handover for data-connection sessions from one Public Land Mobile Network (PLMN) to another. This handover is expected to become increasingly important to support use cases such as dedicated 5G connectivity to meet requirements for connected ambulances, remotely controlled vehicles and trains. Improved handover will be introduced at selected border crossings.

Enhanced Traveller Safety

5G increases the bandwidth and lowers the latency available to transport providers. This supports the delivery of customer experience insight tools and third-party analytics systems to ensure public safety and personal security, including reliable connectivity, ultra high definition cameras, V2X notifications and touch-free travel. 

When will this be available? View our predicted timeline here.

Working with West Midlands Metro and GoMedia, WM5G explored how 5G connected trams can enhance traveller safety. Trams collect a variety of valuable information, including CCTV footage and tram performance and maintenance data. Historically this information is accessed and downloaded manually, outside the hours of operation. To hasten this process, the team equipped a tram with a 5G solution from Icomera. The increased bandwidth offered by 5G allowed high-definition CCTV footage captured on the tram to be securely and remotely transferred to the Regional Traffic Control Centre while in operation, enabling real-time interventions if required. This is particularly important on transport modes like trams and trains that have automated elements such as doors, which can pose a number of safety hazards. Similar solutions have been deployed in Alba Iulia in Romania, where 5G is being used across the public transport network to identify threats to passengers such as theft or emergency situations.

A 5G-enabled reporting process supplements this. Passengers can notify Transport for West Midlands and service operators in real-time, with urgent notifications sent immediately to onboard staff and the Regional Transport Coordination Centre (RTCC). Statistics show that “more than half of women in London are victims of sexual abuse on Tube, trains and buses”. Disabled passengers can also face significant difficulties using public transport with 66% having experienced a problem during their journey. Integrated 5G - featuring low latency, increased bandwidth and greater speeds - enables an instant transfer of issues, from the passengers to the people that need to know.

WM5G also used smart cameras to monitor occupancy levels on buses and trains in real-time, improving the passenger experience (for instance, by dynamically scheduling more buses to avoid overcrowding). A 5G Enabled Dynamic Network Capacity Manager further helps to monitor the road network, enabling quick identification of hazards and potential safety issues, with the ability to implement diversions accordingly. 

Yet one of the biggest factors impacting the use of public transport after dark is perceived personal security when waiting for a bus or train. To overcome this, a smart and safe 5G cellular-connected bus stop has been deployed at the Nokia Campus in Espoo, Finland. Equipped with video surveillance and high-capacity 5G connectivity and smart digital displays equipped with advanced security features, the concept allows security personnel to communicate with the bus stops; the network enables alarms, security responses and the ability to see what is happening in and around the shelters. 

Advanced connectivity including 5G will also facilitate the full capabilities of Vehicle to Everything (V2X) communications. Connected vehicles could save 11k lives each year, leading to 260k fewer accidents and saving 280 million hours of driving. Wireless connectivity is being successfully deployed to reduce accidents and improve road safety when incidents do occur the world over. The Advanced Connected Vehicles Victoria trials in Australia tested capabilities such as emergency braking alerts and right turn assistance over 4G; they also provided a glimpse into how 5G could shape the future of the automotive industry — the Quality of Service link is a precursor to the network slicing that will allow 5G to make a huge impact in many industries. 

On the Sichuan Highway in Shanghai, 5G connected smart motorways have been introduced to identify accidents and hazards, enabling real-time responses. The Colorado Department of Transport is strategically deploying V2X capabilities on a 90 mile stretch of mountain highway which has sharp bends, steep gradients and is subject to extreme weather conditions. Closer to home, a high-tech ‘corridor’ was created on the A2/M2 in Kent to let specially-equipped vehicles interact with roadside infrastructure in a move that promises safer journeys. The project used a 5G wireless network to transmit information about road conditions, road works and time left for traffic lights to change to green, all designed to boost road safety. 

Highways England Head of Intelligent Transport Systems Group, Jo White, said:

"Connecting vehicles to each other and the road around can improve journeys, make them safer and give drivers reliable, real-time personalised information; it could also help us manage traffic and respond to incidents."

5G enabled V2X is also being used specifically to improve the safety of vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists. In collaboration with Ericsson, Piaggio is exploring the safety services that could be enabled when scooters are connected with a 5G ecosystem. Today's scooters can provide manufacturers with real-time information and send alerts when they need servicing. However, to increase these capabilities, there needs to be a super-fast connection between the scooter and the cloud. With lower latency and higher bandwidth than 4G, 5G allows scooters to be connected with their environment like never before. 

The 5GCAR project is a European-funded initiative that is exploring the impact 5G can have on V2X across a number of use cases, including vulnerable road user protection, where motorists are alerted to nearby pedestrians when approaching a zebra crossing. Pedestrians will also receive alerts of potentially dangerous situations. Similar trials have been conducted by SEAT and Telefonica who have tested the ability to detect cyclists, thanks to ultra-wideband beacons placed along the road when turning right.

During a live demo event in Turin, the 5G Automotive Association (5GAA) showcased ready-to-deploy use cases in the streets of the city and a sneak preview of what the future has in store. It concluded that the network protected vulnerable road users (for instance, by alerting drivers about a pedestrian at a crossing using LTE-connected infrastructure); smoothed traffic (allowing public authorities and road operators to provide real-time warnings to drivers in urban environments concerning roadworks or speed limits, via the network), and prevented incidents at dangerous intersections (as a result of V2X direct-short range communications between vehicles). 

Dr Maxime Flament, 5GAA Chief Technology Officer, said:

"Connected mobility is a market reality. The use cases demonstrated in the streets of Turin are planned for development with a huge industry momentum based on the evolution path to 5G capabilities."

5G was also used to keep travellers safe amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Boingo’s secure wireless network supported Chicago O'Hare airport’s proprietary biometrics system to process touchless passenger boarding. Other measures could include digitalised security checkpoints; in-app ordering and delivery; digital cameras and sensors to monitor the distances between passengers and staff; cleaning and maintenance (by way of ionisation, UV light technology and disinfecting robotic cleaning scrubbers); health check screening (including temperature checks by infrared scanners), and passenger communications (virtual queuing and digital signage). In China, Healthcare Buses have been using 5G-powered facial recognition enabled by AI and infrared thermal imaging cameras to alert the driver when a person with fever boards.

Advanced connectivity can also enable analytics to identify potential incidents at rail crossings before they happen. Nokia is doing this in collaboration with Odakyu Electric Railway in Japan, using Scene Analytics to target obstacles and enhance safety at rail crossings. The use-case applies machine-learning-based AI to available camera images, which allows it to identify potential issues in real-time. 

Network Rail has highlighted that 5G could be used to deploy drones to investigate potential obstructions or people on train tracks, to further support passenger safety.  This same technology could also potentially enable remote survey and inspection of the railway infrastructure. Network Rail’s TSIP (train and station innovation for performance) collaboration project is undertaking technology trials to explore this further.

5G, together with satellites, can also support safety at sea. Orange has been working to deploy ultra-reliable connectivity to ships on the North Sea, where speedy exchange of data in large volumes could reduce ship collisions and IoT sensors will help search and rescue missions.  

Traveller Assistance

The increased capacity and low latency of advanced connectivity solutions promise to deliver pinpoint accurate and real-time information to vehicles and travellers. Increased reliability and efficiency will enable a range of capabilities to assist travellers: including V2X, driver assistance, guidance for the visually impaired, smart parking and even robot assistants. 

Transport Accessibility, a project by WM5G, looked to solve the problem of a lack of information for those who need more help when travelling on the UK public transport network. It used 5G’s reduced latency combined with AR to provide timely and accurate information to passengers needing additional assistance while in a station or on the transport network. Over 40% of people with visual impairments in the UK are unable to make all or some of their journeys on public transport independently, which represents a substantial 2 million people. Sight loss places a significant economic cost on the UK, estimated at £28 billion per annum; this could be alleviated by getting the right information to visually impaired passengers at the right time.

Navigation around high-density places, such as train and bus stations, can be difficult for vulnerable passengers or those requiring extra assistance. TRAVEL XR seeks to improve the current operating systems using 5G’s higher capacity for camera data and locational accuracies. Utilising wearables, cameras and Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, the network is able to detect people in walkways and enable systems to offer guidance within stations, ultimately improving passenger safety and experience.

GoMedia received funding from the Department for Transport through the £9m First of a Kind 2021 (FOAK21) competition for three projects designed to make the UK’s rail network cleaner, greener and more accessible. Hearing Enhanced Audio Relay (HEAR) improves accessibility for hearing-impaired passengers on trains, through personal onboard announcements. This solution is widely supported by the UK’s train operators. When connected to the onboard Wi-Fi, notifications can be heard or read via an app installed on users’ personal devices, keeping them updated with the journey information they need, in a format that they need. 


The Visually Impaired Navigation (VIN) project, developed in collaboration with the Royal National Institute of Blind People, improves accessibility in busy station environments for partially-sighted and blind passengers. Passengers can use their personal device to scan the specially designed NaviLens tag in stations to get to the right platform in the most optimal, stress-free way. 

Another project specifically looked at leveraging technology to offer travellers fast and reliable help anywhere in the station. Using augmented reality, the mobile app solution provides journey information, platform navigation and the ability for staff and passengers to locate each other when assistance is needed with in-app AR markers overlaid onto the user’s smartphone screen.

Public transport drivers can deliver better passenger experiences when supported by remote assistance. The Xiamen 5G network provides BRT bus drivers with driving assistance by means of roadside sensing and cooperative awareness. Ericsson, ITS and Scania have partnered to provide bus drivers with contextual information and real-time recommendations to improve the efficiency of their service. The high bandwidth and low latency of 5G also enable onboard cameras to monitor the behaviour of drivers, in order to detect and alert the driver to any potential risks.

5G also facilitates the provision of assistance to drivers in privately owned vehicles. The West Midlands was the first region in the UK to trial the concept of 5G-enabled identification of live kerbside parking availability. With the support of parking technology provider AppyWay, a series of trials took place on Stratford Road in Birmingham. The demonstration saw a live HD street scan being captured from a vehicle travelling an agreed section of roadway. The footage was transmitted and processed via a 5G SIM and AI to confirm parking availability in real-time to the AppyParking app. Similar services have been deployed as part of the Partnership Talking Traffic initiative in the Netherlands. By unlocking real-time availability parking data to drivers journey times, the flow of traffic and emissions levels can be improved. When 30% of road transport emissions stem from traffic congestion instigated by people searching for parking, the impact of such a solution could be substantial.  

During a live demo event in Turin, the 5G Automotive Association (5GAA) showcased ready to deploy use cases in the streets of the city and a sneak preview of what the future has in store. They demonstrated the world’s first enhanced advanced driver assistance services using sensors, intelligent tyres, eye-tracking glasses and in-vehicle AR. 

“Connected mobility is a market reality,” said 5GAA Chief Technology Officer, Dr. Maxime Flament. “The use cases demonstrated in the streets of Turin are planned for deployment with a huge industry momentum based on the evolution path to 5G capabilities.”  

Nordic WAY, which has demonstration sites in several locations, has emphasised the potential of 5G. Drivers can expect road work warnings in real-time, speed advice for drivers, safety information from traffic centres and other drivers, dynamic environmental zones (notifications about low air quality), and green light advisories.

Automated Transport

Innovate UK predicts that urban transport systems, air transport and ferries will be fully autonomous by 2050. While AVs are already functional on UK roads without 5G, the advanced V2X functionality and ubiquitous coverage that 5G brings is anticipated to be a huge enabler of autonomous vehicles at scale. What’s more, to be truly effective and safe in urban landscapes, autonomous vehicles will need to be able to detect obstacles, traffic and the driving intentions of surrounding cars. 5G — combined with artificial intelligence and cyber security — can achieve this; it offers unique elements able to utilise edge computing with a guaranteed transmission. The low latency and slicing of the network that 5G offers also provides the ability for remote operation by a human driver, further boosting safety.

The 5G MK project integrated CAV services with smart parking at locations across the Stadium MK area, improving access and increasing site efficiency. Hotel guests, for example, could take advantage of autonomous vehicles to assist them and their luggage on their journey from the hotel reception to one of the 304 bedrooms situated within the stadium.

In the Midlands, the Very Light Rail (VLR) vehicles offer great potential to increase mobility across cities through lightweight, energy-efficient rail travel. West Midland 5G’s CAT VLR project is exploring how 5G can improve the safety of such autonomous vehicles through its real-time applications. The project will trial a 5G connected control system that operators will be able to interact with and respond to in real-time.

Autoair developed and demonstrated high speed data transfer to and from high speed rail use cases as part of the work at the UTAC Millbrook Proving Ground using mmWave. The results are now being taken into field trials on the Isle of Wight and parts of the UK national network:

Ericsson has worked with Scania to develop a testbed for autonomous buses in urban environments. The initiative allows a human operator to remotely control a vehicle via V2N communication using a cloud-based application. This would not be possible without 5G. The network supports downlink data rates of up to 1 Mbps and uplink data rates of up to 25 Mbps; holds ultra-high reliability of 99.999 percent, and facilitates end-to-end latency of 5 ms between the vehicle and the V2X application server.  (You can watch this in action below.)

From Nokia’s head office in Finland to the train station at Kera, an array of sensors and antennas will line the 1km route to create a 5G network that will allow buses to drive autonomously. The poles are part of LuxTurrim5G, a project driven by Nokia Bell Labs, and if successful the system will form a key part of a new smart city of 15,000 inhabitants in Espoo that Nokia hopes to build over the next ten years.

“A wider use for the poles, in more isolated, rural areas of Finland, would be to utilise their in-built cameras to survey the environment and give a heads-up warning to cars of possible collisions with moose and other animals,” explains Pekka Wainio, project manager at Nokia Bell Labs.

The world’s first standalone 5G system for automatic train operation in Hamburg has been unveiled as part of DB’s (German Rail) highly automated S-Bahn operation project. The proof-of-concept test is using 5G technology for automatic train operations and will soon be operational. The demonstration included fully driverless shunting of empty trains in an area near Bergedorf station, based on the transmission of train control information over the 5G network. 

Volocopter is even coordinating air taxis over 5G. The company specialises in the design of electric multirotor helicopters in the form of ready-to-fly aircraft, designed for air taxi use. Its key features include remote control, GPS point tracking, possible sense and avoid integration, possible autonomous subfeature integration, additional battery capacity to extend range and flight time air traffic management (including unmanned traffic management) to coordinate autonomous Volocopter fleets. This innovation will unlock a broad range of opportunities for travellers, including the optimisation of service delivery and end-user experience.

In recognition of the expected increase in autonomous air transport, work is underway in Coventry to create the world’s smallest electric airport for autonomous aerial mobility, including passenger-carrying air taxis and cargo drones.

5G is crucial for enabling the shuttle bus of the future, also known as remote driving. In Bonn, German operator Deutsche Telekom and MIRA are using the technology to transfer large volumes of data in real-time from the vehicle to the remote-control station, allowing the test to take place. 

Vehicle Platooning

Vehicle platooning is an intelligent transportation system (ITS) application in which autonomous vehicles drive in close cooperative formations. It improves aerodynamic effectiveness and performance, increases the capacity of roads and provides a more steady-state traffic flow. Low latency is essential to ensure this can be conducted safely, making 5G the ideal connectivity solution. While traditionally tested with commercial vehicles, it also has the potential to be deployed to cars. This is expected to increase safety and road capacity, in addition to reducing fuel consumption.

The SARTRE (Safe Road Trains for the Environment) project, involving seven European partners, successfully trialled the platooning of trucks and cars. With platooned traffic operating in a mixed environment with other road users, this emphasised the potential for implementing road trains of privately-owned vehicles on conventional highways.

The tested train included a manually driven lead truck, followed by one truck and three Volvo cars (S60, V60 and XC60). All the following vehicles were driven autonomously at speeds of up to 90 km/h, in most cases with no more than a four-metre gap between the vehicles. This was facilitated by a Human-Machine Interface including a touch screen for displaying vital information and carrying out requests, and a vehicle-to-vehicle communication unit that allows all vehicles within the platoon to communicate with each other.

 "The basic principle is that the following vehicles repeat the motion of the lead vehicle," said Erik Coelingh from the project. He explains: "To achieve this we have extended the camera, radar and laser technology used in present safety and support systems such as Adaptive Cruise Control, City Safety, Lane Keeping Aid, Blind Sport Information System and Park Assist Pilot."

At the 5GENESIS trial facility located in Surrey, 5G is being used by vehicles to receive a continuous data stream from the lead vehicle for carrying out platoon operations. This information allows the time headway between vehicles to become extremely small, even less than a second. The following vehicles in a platoon can drive more or less automatically, creating economic, environmental and safety benefits while increasing driving comfort by freeing up drivers to perform other tasks (for passenger cars), and reducing the need for professional drivers (for commercial vehicles). 

Erik Coelingh, SARTRE project, said: 

"The energy-saving potential is 10-20 per cent. This means that the journey to your holiday destination doesn't only become more comfortable and safe. The money you save on reduced fuel consumption can be spent on lunch by the beach instead."

After-Market Services for Private Vehicles

After housing, a vehicle is the most costly item in a European family’s budget. 5G is here to change that: vehicle-centric OEMs and aftermarket services make it possible for the OEM to collect diagnostics data, providing motorists more informed choice over how they repair, maintain and service their vehicles.