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5G ecosystem paves the way to automated vehicles

Connected cars are big business, with over 100 million of them on the roads already. This number is growing rapidly, with all new cars expected to be connected by 2022.  This connectivity will allow vehicles to interact with the cloud, with each other and with the road infrastructure - making roads safer, allowing traffic to flow more easily and making driving more comfortable.

Developing the next generation of connected mobility and automated vehicle solutions requires many different players to work together. This is the role of the 5G Automotive Association (5GAA). Formed in 2016 with Nokia as a founding member, it coordinates telecom service providers, network vendors, automotive manufacturers and their suppliers, map providers and road operators. It aims to accelerate the introduction of intelligent transport and communication solutions.  In partnership with companies across the globe, Nokia has tested connected vehicle capabilities and gathered a wealth of experiences and field data.

Among these was the 5G CAR (5G Communication Automotive Research and Innovation) project. This project tested 5G NR sidelink communication, 5G NR positioning and deployment modes such as 5G network slicing and edge computing in different connected vehicle use cases. One of these was a “lane merging” use case, in which connected vehicles shared their status information via a central maneuver planning system.  Non-connected vehicles were discovered by roadside cameras and their information was also maintained. When cooperative maneuver was identified, each driver was sent individual recommendations about acceleration, deceleration or lane changes to ensure safety and comfort. In the other “sensor sharing” use case, vehicles’ Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) sensor data was shared with the intelligence in the car cloud in real time in order to estimate collision risks and deliver warnings to affected drivers.

In another field project, Nokia and several partners (Telefonica Spain, Seat, Ficosa and SICE) took part in Spain’s first C-V2X use case demonstration in Segovia in 2018 where road safety use cases were demonstrated in a real urban environment. In the first case, the connected vehicle received an alert from a traffic light about to change to red, allowing the driver to assess whether he had enough time to cross the intersection safely. The other use case sent an alert to a vehicle to warn the driver of pedestrians at a crosswalk out of the driver’s line of sight. In both cases, Nokia’s MEC (Multi-access Edge Computing) server acted as the communication platform between the vehicle and the road infrastructure.

Under the umbrella of the 5G-MOBIX program, a Spanish-Portuguese sub-project focused on the development and testing of automated vehicle functionalities using 5G along multiple cross-border corridors and urban trial sites. The scope included in-vehicle infotainment on public buses, teleoperated driving in a real environment, lane merge and overtaking maneuver coordination for automated vehicles.  In some cases, the cars in the same scenario were connected to different mobile service providers’ networks, so the Nokia MECs within both networks shared critical information. Additional connected vehicle use cases were verified in another cross-border and cross-mobile network operator environment between Austria, Germany and Italy in the 5G Carmen project.

In May 2019, at the 5GAA Connected and Automated Driving Workshop in Berlin, Nokia, Continental, Deutsche Telecom and Fraunhofer ESK demonstrated how an ultra-fast, reliable and precise dissemination of safety-relevant information can save lives. Information was delivered to vehicles in almost real-time via a mobile network, using MEC technology to reduce latency. Information such as emergency warnings, events and obstacles, high-definition maps and sensor data were transmitted in milliseconds, improving driving safety.

Chinese leading automotive company FAW and Nokia demonstrated 5G teleoperated driving in August 2019 in China.  FAW’s first EV HS3 all-electric SUV was equipped with a 5G remote control unit, high definition cameras and a 360-degree VR panoramic live video unit, allowing remote driving from the operation center. Teleoperated driving is set to become more important – when AI is not able to resolve a certain traffic situation, human operators will be able to help via remote control utilizing the eMBB and URLLC capabilities of 5G network.

SoftBank has deployed a connected car test environment at Honda’s R&D Laboratories proving ground in Kamikawa-gun, Hokkaido, in Japan. Nokia provided the 5G commercial network equipment for the commercialization verification tests of connected vehicle use cases such as Emergency Brake Warning, Hazardous Location Warning and High-Quality Sensor Sharing (4K video transmission) utilizing in-vehicle cameras.

As vehicles on the road get more sophisticated features, paving the way towards automated mobility, the car requires ever more software to serve these needs. Software updates as a service are needed to deliver updates and new features to this next generation of vehicles. Nokia’s IMPACT Auto has been used by a Tier 1 automotive company, through Verizon  Connect service to complete lifecycle management of all car software, with over the air (OTA) capabilities and Data Lake to store the data. With this solution, OTA software updates were done for almost 10,000 vehicles, cutting recall costs and reducing security risks by patching vulnerabilities quickly, giving the customer a better experience.

The examples above illustrate that the journey to a new level of mobility has already begun and that cooperation between the automotive and telecommunication industries is key to enabling these new experiences. Nokia is at the heart of this industry cooperation, committed to paving the way to fully automated vehicles utilizing 5G

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Tamas Dankovics

About Tamas Dankovics

Tamás works in Nokia’s 5G marketing team responsible for AirScale – the company’s latest cutting edge 5G radio access solution. He’s addicted to the electromagnetic spectrum beyond cm and mmWaves – and spends his free time capturing images of objects in the solar system and beyond.

Tweet me at @Tamas_Dankovics

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