5G NetMobil Project Will Boost Safety and Efficiency in Connected Traffic
Safer, more convenient, greener: connected vehicles that can communicate with roadside infrastructure in real time reduce emissions and the risk of accidents. This communication requires a stable and reliable data link provided by high-performance 5G, the new fifth-generation wireless technology for cellular networks, or by Wi-Fi-based alternatives (ITS-G5).
Sixteen research institutions, medium-sized enterprises, and major players have been working toward this goal over the past three years in the 5G NetMobil research project. They are now presenting their results which will enable major strides for a new era in mobility.
“With the 5G NetMobil project, we have achieved decisive milestones on the road to fully connected driving and are demonstrating how modern communication technologies can make our road traffic safer, more efficient, and more economical, all at the same time,” said Thomas Rachel, parliamentary state secretary in the German Ministry of Education and Research. His ministry had funded this research project with 9.5 million euros.
The groundwork done in this project in the areas of networks, security, and communication protocols now underpins efforts to standardize specifications, develop new business models, and ramp up the partners’ first production runs. In many traffic situations, it is virtually impossible for drivers to see everything they need to, such as pedestrians crossing convoluted intersections or vehicles suddenly emerging from blind alleys. Radar, ultrasonic, and video sensors are the eyes of modern vehicles.
Direct vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V), vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) and vehicle-to-network (V2N) communication enables vehicles to share data in real time with one another and their surroundings – even data on things that cannot be seen. The partners in the 5G NetMobil project are using this communication capability to develop tools such as a crossing assistant to protect pedestrians and cyclists at blind intersections.
Experts from the participating companies and universities have laid out the groundwork for platooning with vehicles less than ten meters apart and for parallel platooning in agriculture. “The work of the research project is relevant to a wide range of applications. This not only benefits project partners from industry and research, but especially road users,” says Frank Hofmann from Bosch, who is coordinating the research project on the manufacturing end.
This research project’s brief was to find solutions to key challenges in automotive real-time communication. There’s a good reason for this: direct V2V and V2I communication has to be failsafe, with high data rates and low latency, for fully connected driving to become reality. But what happens if the quality of the data link changes, leaving less bandwidth available for direct V2V communication? The experts developed an agile “quality of service” concept to detect changes in the provided network quality and alerts the connected driving functions accordingly.
This way, the distance between vehicles in a platooned convoy can be increased automatically when network quality decreases. Another focal point of this research was to break the main cellular network down into discrete virtual networks (slicing). 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 research project has 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. “The insights gained in this project are now flowing into the global standardization of communications infrastructure. They are cornerstones for partner companies’ further development efforts,” Hofmann says.