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Nov 27 2015

Steering the industry towards assisted driving

This blog is by Kathrin Buvac, Chief Strategy Officer at Nokia Networks. @kathrinbuvac

Last week, I was honored to be able to co-host a media event together with the German Ministry of Digital Infrastructure and Traffic, under the lead of Minister Alexander Dobrindt, that showcased how Nokia’s vision of the programmable world and digital mobility will have a real-life impact on the everyday lives of people across the globe.

Held with our partners Deutsche Telekom, Continental and Fraunhofer ESK, the event at Germany’s digital A9 motorway test bed in Bavaria showed how assisted and autonomous driving will help reduce the annual toll of one million road fatalities, while also cutting congestion and saving fuel.

With autonomous cars aware of surrounding vehicles ar maneuvering to stay safe, digital mobility is one of the most tangible parts of the Internet of Things or IoT. Behind the scenes, Nokia is one of the leaders in the development of 5G. With its high speed and low latency, 5G will be the bedrock of digital mobility.

The event in Bavaria combined the expertise of an automotive supplier, an operator, a network vendor and a research institute to demonstrate what the ‘human possibilities of technology’ can mean in practice.

Journalists at the event were queuing up for test drives to experience ‘assisted braking’ and ‘assisted overtaking’ for themselves. And it was all made possible through an operational LTE network and a dash of magic called Mobile Edge Computing (MEC).

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Looking ahead with Mobile Edge Computing

Many cars are already equipped with a large number of cameras and sensors providing valuable information and improving safety. But they can only look a certain distance ahead - they cannot “see through” a truck or sense a traffic jam over the next hill. Vehicles connected via LTE can receive information from other vehicles, which is something an in-car sensor cannot provide. And it’s thanks to MEC that they can receive warnings in less than 20 ms - almost real-time.

MEC, chiefly developed by Nokia Networks, adds cloudlets, small IT platforms and computing resources to mobile base stations. This means data does not need to travel through the core network to a central cloud and back if a task can be handled locally. The result is very low end-to-end latency. The distributed cloud architecture of MEC is something we will also see in 5G, but we don’t have to wait for 5G to feel MEC’s benefits, as it already works with today’s LTE networks.

And since 5G will be a mix of existing and new technologies, with 4G/LTE as the foundation, it’s important to remember that 4G coverage is needed everywhere and not a step to be skipped over. Ubiquitous 4G coverage is essential for seamless availability of service not only for autonomous driving, but also for improving road safety of manual driving and a host of other exciting MEC enabled use cases.

 

Cooperative Passing Assistant demonstration: the screen shows 13 ms latency. Picture © Deutsche Telekom AG
Cooperative Passing Assistant demonstration: the screen shows 13 ms latency.Picture © Deutsche Telekom AG

Cooperative Passing Assistant demonstration: the screen shows 13 ms latency. Picture © Deutsche Telekom AG

More than a use case

This is a perfect example of how we can use technology to benefit people and the environment. Ralf Lenninger, SVP Strategy and Innovation in Continental's Interior Division, put it this way: “The more a vehicle knows about the surroundings and the behavior of other road users, the lower its energy consumption and the fewer the traffic fatalities.”

It is also a good example of the ecosystem approach that we will need to solve the complex problems of today and tomorrow. No single player can drive the value chain alone. This requires an ecosystem where expertise in a specific vertical industry, its processes and challenges, meets expertise in digital infrastructure. This is the blueprint for success.

But let’s be clear: “Digital mobility needs a network that is fast and available everywhere,” said Tim Höttges, CEO of Deutsche Telekom, at the event. Without a ubiquitous infrastructure which forms the backbone of our connected world, most IoT use cases won’t fly - neither Mobility 4.0 nor autonomous driving.

This is an exciting time for mobile communications and Nokia is leading the way forward with its innovative and cutting edge technologies. We’ll be sharing more examples of how we’re helping to usher in the programmable world and focusing on making tech human.

You can take a deeper dive into Nokia and the Internet of Things on our website.

Or read more about: Enabling the programmable world through IoT interoperability.

Please share your thoughts on this topic by replying below – and join the discussion with @nokianetworks on Twitter using #digitalA9 #IoT #maketechhuman #NetworksPerform #LTE.

About Kathrin Buvac

As the company's chief strategist, Kathrin helps shape Nokia Networks' vision and strategy working with senior leaders, customers and analysts worldwide. In addition to leading the company's overall efforts in the Internet of Things, she's also embraced the role of "goodwill ambassador" of making tech human.