Ericsson Ramps Up C-V2X Capability

The Russian automotive industry doesn’t make it into the world’s top 20 countries in terms of production with little more than 500,000 vehicles produced annually.

However, its voice is starting to be heard in terms of lobbyists of ITS-G5/DSRC and C-V2X technology. This January, Russian network provider MTS in partnership with Swedish equipment producer Ericsson announced the launch of a 5G zone within the private LTE network at the manufacturing facility of truck maker KAMAZ. In 2018, Ericsson, a dedicated C-V2X exponent, had agreed cooperation in the driverless and industrial IoT spheres with KAMAZ.

The current 5G zone is not aimed specifically at autonomous and connected transport, said Alexey Ganitsev, business development director at Ericsson Eastern Europe and Central Asia. The big business will be the modernization of manufacturing operations: “The test segment of the 5G zone at the private LTE network will prepare for several industrial cases at one of the production lines of the company”.

Yet, it’s likely to influence the corporate sentiment as long as it turns the whole factory into a testing ground for connected transport technologies. The truck maker is currently believed to be using self-driving trucks for ferrying autoparts in-house while also developing a range of over-the-air consumer services, making it reasonable to use the private network for trials. Even if it doesn’t happen, the in-house experience is itself certain to persuade the engineering staff that 5G is a market-ready solution. It’s a strong reason as long as a lack of ground-level experience is achieved in the country while too many considerations on remain theoretical.

The truck maker is not an easy target to achieve because its digital development pattern is erratic, at least when observed from the outside. In the last five years, the company had launched three or more self-driving projects, each one with different technological partners and a different technical concept. It has been vague about the goals, the schedule and the outcomes and its connectivity strategy is unclear in the same degree.

Remarkably, in one instance at FIFA 2018, the company demonstrated an electric Level 5 autonomous shuttle bus that employed 5G connection for remote guidance from a backend server. We do not even know for sure how many of the projects are under way now and KAMAZ declined to comment on the topic.

Meanwhile, it can become a decisive force. Its biggest shareholder Rostec, the state-owned holding conglomerate in charge of all the Russian government’s assets in defense and high-tech Industries, is itself is a lever capable of influencing the situation.

“5G is a promising technology for building a sustainable transportation system, providing a robust broadband connection necessary for safe operations of autonomous trucks on public motorways,” said Ganitsev. In Europe, Ericsson is currently teaming up with manufacturer Volvo Construction Equipment and logistics operator Einride on autonomous driving and remote vehicle control projects.

In Russia, the company has not advanced that far. “We do not lead promotional activities targeted directly at the Russian automotive industry and affiliated institutions but we regularly participate in events related to all the key industries where 5G for digital transformation of manufacturing is a nimble theme,” said Tatyana Oberemova, head of marketing and communications at Ericsson. “As a mobile networking equipment vendor, we focus on partnerships with mobile network operators. All collaboration with end users like automakers is always done in co-operation with one or another MNO such as MTS in the instance with KAMAZ.”

Sollers Auto

Russian automaker UAZ, a subsidiary of holding company Sollers Auto, is the only Russian automaker which is clear about its priorities. “UAZ sees development of C-V2X a favorable way, the company will move in this direction in the future,” said Alina Komarova, press secretary at Sollers Auto. “The two technologic approaches complement each other but, in DSRC, data exchange is limited to smaller ranges and higher latencies. For the purposes of automotive transport, C-V2X is a favorable data transmission technology. Upon the mass deployment of 5G networks, exchange of telematics and vehicle control data will take a whole new level allowing for high-performance cloud solutions.”

Automakers GAZ Group and AVTOVAZ declined to comment on the subject. Meanwhile, commercial deployment of general-purpose 5G networks in Russia is not believed to start before 2023 and reach considerable capacity before the late 2020s.

Ganitsev concluded: “A number of issues needs to be solved. It includes allocation of frequency bands and securing competitiveness of distribution of frequencies, import and certification of equipment, rules for use of equipment in general purpose networks.”

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