LG U+ uses 5G to put a car in the driving seat

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LG U+ uses 5G to put a car in the driving seat


Left: LG U+’s 5G-connected self-driving car stops in front of a dummy during Thursday’s demonstration in Magok-dong, western Seoul. The dummy represents a jaywalking pedestrian. Right: LG U+ holds a press briefing Thursday to show off its 5G-based connected car technology, made in collaboration with other LG affiliates including LG Electronics. [LG U+]

By just pressing a button on a smartphone application, you’ll soon be able to summon your autonomous car to your location, ready to pick you up.

LG U+ brought that distant autonomous future a little closer on Thursday, demonstrating its 5G-based connected-car technology during a press briefing with reporters in Magok-dong, western Seoul.

During the demonstration, an LG U+ employee opened up her smartphone application and pressed “call” to summon an autonomous car connected to the carrier’s 5G network from a nearby parking lot. She was able to monitor where her car was through the app until it arrived.

After she hopped into the back seat of the car and inserted her destination, also through the app, the car began its journey.

During the demonstration, the self-driving car was able to communicate with a manned vehicle in front of it, which sent a live video feed back to the self-driving car, notifying it that there was a school bus in front with children in it and it is waiting for the bus to move. This mimicked how self-driving cars will communicate with each other about traffic conditions in the future.

For the demonstration, a Genesis G80 sedan mounted with LG Electronics’ 5G telecommunications modem and LG U+’s connected-car technology drove for roughly 10 minutes around LG Science Park in Magok-dong. The total driving distance was about 2.5 kilometers (1.5 miles).

Though the test car drove autonomously, an employee sat in the driver’s seat for safety reasons.

According to the mobile carrier, its 5G-based vehicle-to-everything (V2X) technology enables vehicles to communicate with everything, including other cars, traffic infrastructure and pedestrians. This can enhance convenience for drivers while also improving driving safety, the carrier said.

The app introduced during the demonstration has not been commercialized yet, but once it is, drivers will no longer have to go and find their cars in parking lots, but instead can make the car do the hard work for them. Of course, self-driving cars must also become common for the connected-car service to be useful.

As for sharing videos between cars, an LG U+ spokesperson said the technology can prevent collisions by delivering necessary traffic information to other vehicles on the road.

“School buses, in particular, stop frequently, affecting other cars and the overall traffic situation,” the spokesperson said. “If such information is shared with other cars, it will largely improve safety for children.”

The 5G-connected self-driving car was also tested under different scenarios like suddenly stopping as it encountered a jaywalking pedestrian, changing lanes as an ambulance approached from the back and slowing down as a tent set up at the corner of a road blocked the view of incoming cars from the side.

All of the scenarios were possible because cars can communicate with traffic infrastructure, LG U+ said.

For instance, the car was able to stop before hitting a pedestrian as an intelligent CCTV camera monitoring jaywalking pedestrians immediately reported the information to the vehicle.

While most demonstrations were successful, the car only actually drove itself to its passenger after being summoned twice.

The first time, the car returned back to its starting point and parked itself due to “unexpected traffic situations,” according to Choi Soon-jong, a vice president at LG U+.

Choi Joo-sik, an executive vice president at LG U+, said the issue was not caused by a technological problem, but a problem that occurred as traffic in the demonstration area was not properly controlled.

The mobile carrier said it will make the LG Science Park area in Magok-dong a test site for 5G-based V2X technology so that other companies can also test related services there.

On whether LG U+ has collaborated with affiliates other than LG Electronics in building the latest mobility technology, Choi said it has been collaborating with many affiliates including electric component maker LG Innotek and IT service company LG CNS to develop the connected-car platform.

BY KIM JEE-HEE [kim.jeehee@joongang.co.kr]
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