Integrating Automated Vehicles with 5G Networks to Realize the Future of Transportation

Authors: Brian Kelley, Kara Kockelman and Junmin Wang


Widespread deployment of fully automated or “autonomous” vehicles (AVs) that can operate without human interaction would make travel easier, cheaper, and safer. Reaching this highest level of automation requires AVs to be connected to 5G networks, which in turn allows AVs to communicate with “smart”, 5G-connected roadway infrastructure. The federal government can support progress towards this goal through a three-part initiative. Part 1 would establish Transportation Infrastructure Pilot Zones to field-test the integration of AV technology with 5G networks in settings across the country. Part 2 would create a National Connected AV Research Consortium to pursue connected-vehicle research achieving massive scale. Part 3 would launch a targeted research initiative focused on ensuring safety in a connected AV era, and Part 4 would create a new U.S. Corps of Engineers and Computer Scientists for Technology to embed technically skilled experts into government. With primary support from the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the Department of Defense (DOD), this initiative would also help develop a basic framework for achieving a 90% reduction in vehicle crashes nationwide, deliver new transportation services, and establish national standards for AV technology. Initiative outcomes would promote U.S. global leadership in AVs, create new jobs and economic opportunities, and prepare the U.S. workforce to integrate technology of the future into systems of the present.

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About the Authors

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Dr. Brian Kelley, Associate Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering, joined the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) in 2007. He received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Cornell University, graduating Tau Beta Pi and Eta Kappa Nu, and a master’s degree and Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Georgia Tech. Dr. Kelley holds 11 U.S. patents, has authored over 60 publications, was previously Associate Editor of the IEEE System Journal, and has received over $3 million in funding for his research. Dr. Kelley’s current research includes 5G/6G, mobile edge computing, autonomous vehicle infrastructure, artificial intelligence, and security. Dr. Kelley has been the 5G Principal Investigator in 5G Core Security and 5G Telemedicine since 2020 with Joint Base San Antonio’s Program Management Office (PMO).

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Dr. Kara Kockelman is the Dewitt C. Greer Professor of Engineering at UT Austin and is a recognized expert on autonomous vehicle (AV) use, shared AV systems, travel demand forecasting, traffic patterns under congestion pricing, and managed lanes and economic policies. Dr. Kockelman has published 180 journal articles, written 2 books, and received several awards including the MIT Top 100 (Young) Innovators Award (2002), an NSF CAREER Award (2000–2004), the ASCE’s Harland Bartholomew Award for transportation planning contributions (2007), and a Google Research Award (2014) for her travel-demand modeling work on autonomous vehicles. Dr. Kockelman received a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, and Ph.D. from UC Berkeley.

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Dr. Junmin Wang has been the Accenture Endowed Professor in Mechanical Engineering at University of Texas at Austin since August 2018. Dr. Wang’s research interests cover control, modeling, estimation, optimization, and diagnosis of dynamical systems, especially for automotive, vehicle, transportation, smart and sustainable mobility applications. Prof. Wang’s research programs have been funded by the National Science Foundation, the Office of Naval Research, the Department of Energy, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and the Texas Department of Transportation. Dr. Wang has authored or co-authored more than 330 peer-reviewed publications. Dr. Wang was named an SAE Fellow (2015) and an ASME Fellow (2016). He serves as Editor for the IEEE Vehicular Technology Magazine and IEEE Transactions on Vehicular Technology.