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Jun 16 2016

Self driving cars: G5 or 5G?

Twitter: @nokianetworks

Europe's highways are safer now than they have ever been. Road deaths fell by 18%, in the EU between 2010 and 2014, as new policies and safer vehicles were adopted across the member states. It's a similar story in the United States, where in 2014 total fatalities also fell, continuing a trend that has seen deaths fall by 25% in the last 10 years.

It is no coincidence that these improvements have corresponded with the rapid development of intelligent transport systems for road vehicles and networks. New radio technologies, 3D radars, sensors, cameras, night vision systems, video analytics software, and more precise location capabilities are all helping to keep drivers and their passengers safe. And this will continue as more and more vehicles fitted with this technology are introduced onto our roads.

The realization of two major technological milestones is critical to this success: passive safety, whereby telematics and location-based services are introduced into road vehicles, and active safety, where Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) utilize obstacle-detection to reduce the chance of an accident occurring.

However, road safety technology is not standing still. Two further technological milestones are envisaged which will further enhance safety and ultimately deliver a truly intelligent transport system which offers a zero-accident utopia:

  • Cooperative safety, which consists of vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) applications which exchange information, and
  • Autonomous vehicles, which utilize V2X consisting of vehicle-to-vehicle, vehicle-to-infrastructure, vehicle-to-pedestrian (V2P), and vehicle-to-network applications (V2N).

Inevitably V2X will require communications networks that are capable of quickly, securely and reliably exchanging information, and already there is a debate going on about what form this will take. The early frontrunner is ITS G5, or Intelligent Transport System, which operates in the 5GHz range, and is an adaptation of the widely-used IEEE 802.11 standard for Wi-Fi to incorporate Wireless Access in Vehicular Environments (WAVE).

As a readily-available, internationally-recognized standard which does not require licensed spectrum, it appears that G5 is well placed. Critically no network architecture is needed to provide peer-to-peer communications between vehicles and road infrastructure, meaning that it could be deployed on any road, and even in rural areas where there is limited telecoms infrastructure. However, this is also reason for concern. Without a global networking infrastructure and end-to-end operational supervision and monitoring to control which User Equipment is connected, the threat of a cyber-security breach is elevated. The system also has a low data rate with poor spectrum efficiency and limited Quality of Service management capabilities.

As a result 5G, the fifth generation of mobile networks and an evolution of 4G LTE, is considered the logical technology on which to base these networks. With short and long range, high bit rates, very low latency and enhanced security, it offers what G5 is missing.

Yes, there is a big difference

  ITS G5 5G
Standardization IEEE 802.11 P 3GPP
Availability Now Under standardization
Spectrum 5,9 GHz (Europe, USA), 760MHz (Japan)

Unlicensed spectrum

400 MHz to 100 GHz

Licensed and unlicensed spectrum

Latency Few ms (depend on number of vehicles on the road) 1 ms
Range Short - Few 100 meters Long – depend on the frequency
Spectrum efficiency Low High
Data rates 3, 4.5, 6, 9, 12, 18, 24 and 27 Mbps High: up to 10 Gbps
Scalability Medium High
Network infrastructure No. Direct mode Both. Direct and network mode
Reliability Not guaranteed Guaranteed
Security Encryption, authentication, but no end to end security monitoring/supervision Security by design. End-2-end authentication, encryption, access control, supervision, threat management….Etc
Application supported V2V, V2I V2V, V2I, V2P, V2N, IoT, Infotainement, traffic management, eCall, bCall, location services, software upgrades….etc

However, with the standard still under definition and the first 3GPP releases not expected until after 2020, it will be sometime before we can realize these benefits. But there is an intermediary solution. Rather than positioning the two technologies against one other, we can deliver many of the benefits of V2X now by complementing G5 with the key features of LTE.

Interim solution = G5 + LTE

LTE offers the additional bit rate necessary to operate services such as the Internet of Things (IoT), preventative maintenance, in-car infotainment, car software upgrades, navigation services, and traffic information and hazard prevention all with the reassurance of reliable cyber security software, access control and unified threat management.

In addition, LTE can draw on mobile edge computing capabilities meaning that the vehicles using the system do not have to rely on the entire LTE network architecture. Instead they compute local data within cells rather than the cloud when travelling, cutting end-to-end latency to less than 20 milliseconds, reducing the transit time for critical safety information.

5G may be the technology of the future, but it is possible to realize some of its benefits today. And with the first trials of a V2X test bed already underway on Germany’s A9 motorway, the zero-accident road network may be a little closer than we thought.

For more information on Nokia mobile edge computing, 5G, solutions for connected cars, cyber-security, follow the links.

Visit us at 5G World Summit 2016 and Connected Cars´16 in London 28-30 June 2016 and for more information visit our 5G page.

Share your thoughts on this topic by replying below – or join the Twitter discussion with @nokianetworks using #LTE #5G

About Thierry Sens

Thierry is head of customer marketing for Transportation, Oil, Gas and Mining market segments at Nokia. He has broad expertise in telecommunication systems & infrastructure and always enjoys thinking outside the box to explore new ideas and concepts.