Mobile telephones and traffic—until now, often a fatal combination. But if drivers are no longer part of the equation, those fatalities are avoidable. Now “communicative” vehicles are supposed to prove that in a test area on the German autobahn.
If vehicles on the road were fully networked, it would solve a number of problems. If automobiles, stoplights and anything else involved in road traffic could communicate with one another, the number of accidents could be reduced, bottlenecks could be avoided and energy could be saved. The prerequisite for that: the direct and immediate exchange of information—especially between vehicles, because the slightest delay could have catastrophic consequences. That is why everything is waiting on the new 5G wireless communication standard with response times of just one millisecond and 99.999 percent availability. It should be ready by 2020.
At best, current transmission rates in Deutsche Telekom’s LTE networks are one hundred times slower. That is why, a good year ago, the wireless communications network along a test route for Car2Car pilot projects between Munich and Nuremberg was expanded using mobile-edge computing technology from Nokia Networks. Instead of communication being routed through the entire network, it takes place locally within the radio cell. That shortens signal propagation times to about 20 milliseconds.
A few months later, Deutsche Telekom, Huawei, Audi and other carmakers used the test route to test LTE Vehicular (LTE-V), a development variant of the current wireless communication standard LTE.
LTE-V2X for quasi real time
Now the same test route is the scene of a new test. This time, LTE-V2X (vehicle-to-everything) is supposed to guarantee practically latency-free direct communication between automobiles via mobile radio. LTE-V2X is based on LTE Advanced Pro (4.5G), which will probably be the final extension of the LTE wireless communication standard after LTE-Advanced (4G). Not only does it increase data rates and reduce latency, it also serves as a bridge to the 5G era.
According to the trial scenario, the speed and position of each vehicle within a radius of 320 meters must be recorded. The existing “normal” mobile radio network is also used to improve coordination between vehicles.
Vodafone is installing the mobile radio network for data transmission. The mobile-radio modules for the vehicles and additional communication technology in the base stations comes from Chinese network equipment vendor Huawei. And Bosch is responsible for installation and taking measurements on location.
At first, LTE-V2X will be tested as a real-time warning system when changing lanes on the highway. If you are changing lanes and a car is approaching from behind at high speed, which could result in an accident, the driver receives a warning. Other scenarios such as the car in front of you braking unexpectedly will be tested later.