Continental, Deutsche Telekom AG, Fraunhofer ESK, and Nokia Networks via demonstrated real-time communication between vehicles via the LTE cell network. This was a demonstration of the first project arising from the “Innovation Charter for the digital A9 motorway test bed.”
The exercise demonstrates how vehicles on the motorway can share hazard information using the LTE network of Deutsche Telekom. As extremely short transmission times are vital for this purpose, a section of the Deutsche Telekom network was equipped with Mobile Edge Computing technology from Nokia Networks, and upgraded with position-locating technology developed by Fraunhofer ESK. The technology was combined with the vehicle electronics interface by Continental. This combination will, for the first time, permit signal transport times between two vehicles of less than 20 milliseconds, according to the companies.
“With the ‘digital A9 motorway test bed,’ we have created a technology-neutral offering for industry and research,” said Alexander Dobrindt, the German federal minister of Transport and Digital Infrastructure. “Innovative companies can trial automated and networked driving in real-life conditions on the motorway. We are, in a very real sense, bringing the laboratory to the road. This is the first demonstration of car-to-car communication via a high-speed cellular connection with near-5G performance. With it, we are taking the leap into the digital real-time age on the road. This will make traffic more predictable for drivers and will help prevent traffic jams and accidents. The project highlights the fact that Germany is paving the way for Mobility 4.0 in the digitalized world. Our ambition is to make the rating ‘tested on German Autobahn’ internationally recognized as a standard.”
The project involved upgrading Deutsche Telekom’s existing LTE network of at sections of the A9 motorway test bed with Mobile Edge Computing technology from Nokia Networks. The LTE base stations were upgraded with plug-in modules (known as “cloudlets”). These cloudlets ensure that information is directly routed within the cells, instead of transporting data through the mobile network via the cloud. This means that end-to-end latency can be cut dramatically, to 20 milliseconds and below. Without the new technology, transmission of signals between two vehicles via LTE networks and the central cloud can take a hundred milliseconds in the best-case scenario, and as much as several hundred milliseconds in unfavorable conditions. Road safety applications via mobile networks are only possible thanks to this fast data transmission, according to the companies.
The test vehicles contain an on-board unit, which is connected to the vehicle systems and communicates with the LTE network via a wireless module. Continental supplies the interface to the cars’ on-board systems via the CAN bus and the tablet application software. Fraunhofer ESK developed the GeoService software, which ensures that the vehicles’ position data is recorded and processed directly at the LTE base station. The geo service at the mobile base stations allows that incident warnings can be sent practically in real-time to all vehicles in the relevant area, according to the companies.