Standards are Key to Connected Mobility

During this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this year the 5G Automotive Association (5GAA) presented the latest global advancements of ‘Cellular-Vehicle-to-Everything’ (C-V2X) in the journey towards 5G-V2X.

Johannes Springer, CTO connected car, T-Systems, and program lead for 5G automotive at Deutsch Telekom, spoke to TU-Automotive about the event and discussed the latest trends, including about the Third Generation Public Partnership Program (3GPP), which has standardized the V2X term. The trend is towards ubiquitous connectivity, where everyone is. This means that every person, every car, every cyclist, and every pedestrian is being connected to a cellular network. For this reason, the Association is developing many services based on this trend.

The second trend, he explains, is about the integration of direct communications: “To allow vehicles to communicate directly with each other, or with the traffic infrastructure.” This trend is particularly apparent in China, the US and in Europe. “We see a third trend, which is that traffic infrastructure such as traffic lights and signs, can be accessed by other traffic participants. This a slowly growing trend. We have good examples where it works well, such as in the Netherlands and in Scandinavia. However, in other reasons it’s more challenging because the road operators need to make smart investment decisions. Therefore, this is highly dependent on the willingness of decision makers to make these investments.”

A spokesperson from Telefonica adds: “V2X communication is essential to redefining mobility towards the “Smart Mobility” by providing real- time, highly reliable, and actionable information flows to enable a safer, more efficient, and more enjoyable driving experience. C-V2X is the only V2X technology with a clear and forward compatible evolution path to 5G for advanced use cases. C-V2X will continue to evolve as part of the 5G roadmap to improve performances. With 3GPP Releases 16 and 17, 5G will add advanced V2X features with longer range, higher density, very high throughput and reliability, sub-meter positioning, and ultra-low latency.”

Main advancement

Telefonica believes the main advancement has been the combing and integration of C-V2X, 5G and Edge Computing capabilities because they are “are essential elements for the Smart Mobility development”.  From this combination, the company says four use cases have emerged:

  • Hazard ahead warnings: roadside infrastructure can use C-V2X to warn vehicles of queues, road works, slow vehicles, accidents, or any hazard ahead of them, so they can slow down smoothly and avoid hard braking;
  • Avoiding collisions: every vehicle on the road could use C-V2X to broadcast its identity, position, speed, and direction. An intelligence hosted in the Edge Computing could combine all this data and alert the driver of any potential collisions;
  • Cooperative driving/intention sharing vehicles can use C-V2X to work together: exchanging intention and sensor data for more predictable, coordinated autonomous driving. Platooning is the ultimate expression of cooperative driving;
  • Real-time infrastructure updates: real-time sharing of 3D HD map and other information between vehicles and infrastructure.

Talking on behalf of the 5GAA, Springer says all new cars are now able to connect to a cellular network, including vehicles from automotive manufacturers such as Volkswagen, Ford and Stellantis. These automakers are installing cellular modems into the new car, for example, to permit them to access the networks. He proclaims this as a clear advancement over the last 5-10 years and suggests that it allows “us to build on this infrastructure that it is provided by the car manufacturing industry”.

He elaborates: “From time-to-time, we have had coverage gaps, in areas that have high traffic. Finally, thanks to regulation we are now starting to deploy V2V communications in countries such as China and, in the near future, in the US. These are enabling factors, and then there are several use cases that have already been developed.”

Vehicle safety

The advancements are particularly focused on vehicle safety. So, for example, whenever there is black ice of the highway, V2X and C-V2X can permit each connected vehicle to exchange road condition information to ensure that drivers can take the appropriate action to slow down, to take another route of to allow more time for braking to prevent accidents.

From an infrastructure perspective, he reveals: “A school bus at a bus stop, can warn other vehicles of passengers alighting from it. Traffic lights can communicate to permit drivers to slow down. All of these traffic participants are communicating with each other using C-V2X, and there are many more use cases where 5G is involved.”

So, how does C-V2X revolutionize the driving experience to make mobility smart, safe and sustainable? Well, the revolution – if indeed it is one – is about everything and everybody being connected to allow for the exchange of data and information. The information from the data flows can also be used to smartly organize traffic, and by doing so it can be more sustainable. “You can avoid traffic accidents and unnecessary stops, and you can organize traffic to avoid traffic jams or give priority to certain people or vehicles, Springer explains. All this can be achieved with C-V2X, he says.

Telefonica’s spokesperson stressed that Smart Mobility means safer, more efficient and sustainable mobility. The key components to create it involve: “Communication and connectivity led by 5G mobile networks with great capabilities in terms of massive connectivity, higher bandwidth and ultra-low latencies.” The ability to exchange information with C-V2X between vehicles and infrastructure as well as to share data and information to enable them to work cooperatively is vital.

To ensure that the C-V2X solution work effectively and efficiently, data processing has to occur in real-time while achieving speed, security and reliability. Telefonica says this is where Edge Computing has a pivotal role to play. Lastly, the company says cybersecurity of all these communications is essential to ensure the integrity of the vehicular communications creating a trusted V2X ecosystem.

That said, to what extent is connected and safe mobility is becoming a reality? Springer argues that, like with any kind of ecosystem, there is a need to reach critical mass in terms of the number of traffic participants involved within it. Then there is a question about how many traffic lights and other types of infrastructure of part of the ecosystem.

He believes the mobile networks are providing the glue to bring all these traffic participants together and says the 5GAA is trying to organize these ecosystems. It’s a complex task as there are hundreds of different use cases, and there is a desire for critical mass to achieve very quickly at “high speed.” The Association is working to facilitate these ecosystems and he claims: “That is why more than 120 companies are working together to make this vision a reality.”

Absolute success can only come with standardization because the automotive and telecoms industries are global enterprises. There is therefore a need for work towards having global standards, particularly as he finds that the challenges “faced by cities and countries around the world are the same.” After all, road safety and traffic jams are a worldwide challenge. He adds that there is also a need to reduce their CO2 and that’s why the 5GAA is working together as a global association to ensure that connect, smart and safe mobility becomes a reality around the world.

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