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Museum of the Automobile in Turin, Italy/Source: Susan Fourtané
Connected and autonomous vehicles are going to bring unprecedented social, industrial, and economic benefits. As the end of the year approaches, we can say that 2019 has been an interesting year for the automotive industry. Connected cars can improve road safety as well as reducing congestion. By 2020, there is an approximate 381 million connected cars that will be found around the world. And for this to become a reality, the rollout of 5G networks must be in place. Thanks to the next-generation network, a series of technological developments can now be introduced in the vehicles and roads of the future.
Vodafone Italia, a subsidiary of Vodafone Group Plc., a British multinational leading telecommunications conglomerate, was the first service provider in Italy to launch 5G technology on a commercial network. Since June 2019, the cities of Turin, Milan, Bologna, Naples, and Rome have been a playground for testing and demonstrating 5G technology. The 5G proects were tested in different industries, including the automotive.
In Milan, the Vodafone 5G Open Lab is open to startups for the co-creation of 5G services and solutions that will contribute to the transformation of mobility and automotive technologies. Starting from December 2017, Vodafone Italia has been a lead company in 5G tests run in Milan, making this city the Italian capital of 5G.
Use cases of assisted driving through 5G connection of vehicles and infrastructures shown for the first time in Italy
From changes in automatic emergency braking systems to assisted overtaking, to the 5G-based developments of Adaptive Cruise Control systems, to information sharing in relation to the road ecosystem around the vehicle, the solutions that Vodafone Italia introduced this month for the first time in Italy show how 5G will disrupt the way we move and drive, paving the way to a world of connectivity that include people, vehicles, and infrastructures that communicate and interact in real-time for greater driving safety and amplified comfort.
According to Vodafone Italia, the very low-latency and high reliability of 5G ensure the real-time reaction of the systems installed in the vehicles, enabling the driver to react more quickly and improving safety in mission critical scenarios. The 5G broadband and communication with Vodafone's Multi-Access Edge Computing (MEC) are paramount for the seamless flow of information and videos, both between vehicles (V2V) and between infrastructure and vehicle (I2V).
Assisted Driving See Through
See Throughfor assisted driving was part of a closed-track test and demonstrations in Turin, Italy on November 14, an event organized by the 5G Automotive Association (5GAA). Assisted Driving See Through was first introduced at the 5G Mobility - Vodafone Conference and Experience Day which focuses on the future of mobility, transportation, and automotive in connection with 5G tests in Milan, Italy on November 6.
Assisted Driving See Through is a solution that uses Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) communication to exchange videos in real-time between vehicles in order to extend the driver's visual range under obstructed visibility scenarios and to prevent accidents, especially in an overtaking phase. See Through is developed on a 5G network and architecture, using Vodafone's Multi-Access Edge Computing (MEC). The See Through use case, developed by Vodafone in collaboration with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), Marelli, Vodafone Automotive, Altran, and the Polytechnic University of Milan used vehicles provided by the FCA and equipped with a connectivity solution provided by Marelli; the vehicles are connected through a 5G router and feature high-frame rate cameras which focus on the road ahead of the vehicle.
On-board video footage which is processed and viewed through Marelli's Motorsport solutions is then sent in real-time through the 5G network to the MEC. At the same time, the MEC receives also the vehicle data processed by the Marelli on-board controllers which include position, speed, direction, activation of turn signals among others. A real-time tracking system and a vehicle space-mapping algorithm developed by Vodafone Automotive allow the MEC to redirect dynamically in real-time the video footage of interest to the respective vehicles. This happens, though, only at the right time, otherwise, it will affect negatively the driver's attention.
The See Through demonstration scenario reflects the presence of three vehicles --two of them connected through a 5G router-- and reproduces an overtaking situation. The driver in the third vehicle, who follows to other slower vehicles and has his visibility obstructed in part, activates the turn signal to state his intention to overtake. Meanwhile, this driver receives in real-time the video with the subjective view of the first vehicle ahead seeing through the obstacle and ensuring that the lane is free and safe for the overtaking maneuver.
According to Vodafone, the company's 5G very low-latency and high reliability are essential to ensure the flow and synchronism of the real-time video exchange between vehicles. The company says that going forward, the ultra-broadband will enable scalability and provide the See Through service also under high traffic and cell saturation conditions. The use of Vodafone's MEC infrastructure addresses dynamically the video flows on the basis of the reciprocal positions of the vehicles involved and ensures minimal end-to-end latency.
5G improves road safety and reduces fuel consumption
Other new 5G automotive solutions introduced by Vodafone Italia in November 2019 in Italy include Intelligent Speed Adaptation and Control, Cooperative Urban Cross-Traffic, and Safe Automated Driving Systems - Highway Chauffeur.
Intelligent Speed Adaptation and Control
Intelligent Speed Adaptation and Control is a solution that uses Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) and Infrastructure-to-Vehicle (I2V) communications in order to share static and dynamic information on the road ecosystem around the vehicle including speed limits, narrowing streets dangerous curves, and status of lights. It also shares information detected by nearby vehicles such as dangerous road surfaces in order to adapt can speed dynamically and to increase car passengers' safety and comfort. According to Vodafone, additional evolutionary scenarios for Intelligent Speed Adaptation and Control will include geolocation information coming from a road infrastructure connected to 5G --including speed limits, road works narrowing streets, dangerous curves, and state lights-- which will be sent to both private and local public transportation vehicles that might be potentially concerned.
Cooperative Urban Cross-Traffic
Cooperative Urban Cross-Traffic is a solution that uses Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) and Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) communication to expand the visual range of current safety systems to prevent collision between vehicles approaching an intersection, sending visual and acoustic warning signals to the driver and activating an automatic emergency braking system if it is necessary. According to Vodafone, in this use case 5G ensures the real-time reaction of the automatic breaking system, accelerating the reaction time of both the driver and normal assisted driving systems such as anti-collision radar. To improve further collision-risk estimates, the solution is equipped with smart Cyber Tyres by Pirelli, which can detect actual road grip conditions. Vodafone's 5G ensures the real-time reactivity of automatic braking systems and accelerates the driver's reaction time. Vodafone's Multi-Access Edge Computing (MEC) infrastructure is paramount to distribute on the edge of the network, near the vehicles, the computing power necessary to process the burdensome video-analysis algorithms.
Safe Automated Driving Systems: Highway Chauffeur
Highway Chauffeur is a solution that uses V2V communication to share in real-time position and speed information of vehicles queueing in a single lane, to maintain a safe trailing distance, and to adapt dynamically to traffic conditions. It evolves and expands the radius of action of the current standard Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) systems. According to Vodafone, this solution will make it possible to improve traffic flow, as well as reducing congestions, fuel consumption, and carbon emissions offering also a benefit to the environment. The very low-latency and high reliability of Vodafone's 5G are paramount for the real-time reaction of the Connected ACC system and to accelerate the manual reaction time of the non-connected driver and traditional radar sensors, according to Vodafone. The use of Vodafone's MEC infrastructure is necessary to send dynamically relevant information to the vehicles involved and to ensure minimal end-to-end latency, the company says.