5G NetMobil project validates tactile connected driving

Results from the three-year 5G NetMobil research project show that modern communication technologies can simultaneously make road traffic safer, more efficient, and more economical.

Funded with €9.5m from Germany’s Ministry of Education and Research, the project’s results include a system that alerts drivers to unseen dangers at blind intersections, and further improvements in platooning for lorries on motorways and agricultural vehicles working in parallel whilst harvesting.

Platooning will see commercial vehicles join up in convoy-like platoons where synchronised acceleration, braking, and steering enables trucks to operate less than 10m apart.

Vehicle platooning (Image: Bosch)

Bosch’s Dr. Frank Hofmann, who is coordinating the research project told The Engineer via email that major benefits of platooning are reduced fuel consumption and less CO2 because of the so-called ‘windshield effect’[slipstream effect], better road use, and higher safety because subsequent trucks are immediately informed about speed and braking of trucks in front.

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The project’s crossing assistant has seen a camera installed in roadside infrastructure to detect cyclists and pedestrians and to warn vehicles within milliseconds to prevent critical situations, such as when a car turns into a side street.

Key to all of these advances are direct vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V), vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) and vehicle-to-network (V2N) communication capabilities that let vehicles to share data in real time with one another and their surroundings. This communication requires a stable and reliable data link provided by 5G wireless technology for cellular networks, or by Wi-Fi-based alternatives (ITS-G5).

Bosch said fully connected driving requires direct V2V and V2I communications with high data rates and low latency. Part of the project developed an agile ‘quality of service’ concept that addressed data link changes that can leave less bandwidth for direct V2V communication.

Dr Hoffman explained that the project evaluated different communication technologies and the usage for the different use cases. It also developed extensions to these technologies to achieve higher reliability.

“Direct V2V communication represented by ITS-G5 and LTE-V2X/5G-V2X (PC5) were taken into account beside 5G V2N network communication,” he said. “The radio characteristics of V2V and V2N are quite different because of the different geometry between the vehicles and the terminals. V2N can be used as a backup in situations where the V2V link has insufficient reliability.”

Dr Hoffman added that in the cases of V2N, the network predicts ‘quality of service’.

“The vehicles inform the network about its current requirements,” he said. “This results in a control loop of QoS parameters.”

5G NetMobil
System alerts drivers to pedestrians and cyclists (Image: Bosch)

Another focal point of this research was to break the main cellular network down into discrete virtual networks (slicing).

According to Bosch, a separate subnet is now reserved for safety-critical functions such as alerting drivers to pedestrians at an intersection. This safeguard ensures data communication for these functions is always enabled. Another discrete virtual network handles data transmissions to stream videos and update the road map. Its operations can be temporarily suspended when the data rate dips.

This 5G NetMobil project is said to have also made significant contributions to hybrid communication where the more stable connection – either the cellular network technology or a Wi-Fi-based alternative – is used to prevent the data link from dropping out while the vehicle is on the move.

5G NetMobil, which involved 16 partners from industry and research institutions, aimed to develop a comprehensive communication infrastructure for tactile connected driving and to demonstrate the advantages of tactile connected driving compared to autonomous driving based solely on local sensor data.