Reshaping connected mobility and road safety through 5G-V2X
How 5G builds the future of connected mobility
“These past years have witnessed revolutionising digital transformations and challenging innovative mobility solutions. The 5G Automotive Association (5GAA) keeps on shaping the new era of mobility and paves the way toward connected driving and enhanced safety for all road users.”
Once a broad vision to increase traffic efficiency, connected driving is now a reality.
Over 200 million connected vehicles are already equipped with Cellular Vehicle-to-Everything (C-V2X) technology applications sharing hazard and traffic warnings on the road, and the first 5G-equipped models are now hitting the market.
5G, a game-changer for the automotive sector
5G is a real game-changer when applied to the automotive sector, supporting all communication and information needs and facilitating the digital transition. It enables cooperative and automated driving, by providing a flexible radio access for all services running in the vehicles. Whether it is entertainment or infotainment requiring high-quality massive data transfer or safety and automation requiring ultra reliable low-latency. In short, 5G unlocks attractive value-added automotive use case combining both comfort and convenience and societal gains such as enabling increased traffic safety, efficiency, and environmental sustainability. However, achieving these goals requires the creation of a viable ecosystem gathering the whole value-chain of connected mobility, seamlessly interacting with industry partners, and public actors such as road and infrastructure operators.
At 5GAA, we have been working intensely to bridge the gap between the automotive, technology, and telecom industries and promote the 5G-V2X (vehicle-to-everything) technology as a comprehensive and integrated connectivity enabler for connected vehicles, embracing digital transformations as opportunities for mobility innovations. As we celebrate the 5th Anniversary of our Association, we are proud of the results we have achieved – starting from 8 founding members to over 120 companies from the global automotive and telecoms industry sectors. Our contribution entails the development, standardisation, testing, and deployment of cellular-based communications for the automotive market and the stimulation of global implementation. These past years we have worked intensely with our members to take the future of mobility to a new level, accelerating research and organising worldwide live demonstrations and trials.
Reshaping road safety
Road safety is a crucial aspect of mobility and is an increasingly relevant public policy theme.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 1.3 million people die each year because of road traffic crashes, with another 20–50 million people being injured or disabled. Moreover, most road traffic deaths occur among vulnerable road users (VRUs). The category includes pedestrians and cyclists as well as motorcyclists and persons with disabilities or reduced mobility and orientation.
5GAA has made the protection of Vulnerable Road Users one of its key priorities and firmly believes that making roads safer for cyclists and pedestrians is the ultimate goal of developing these next-generation technologies. With the rapid and reliable data exchange possible over 5G networks, C-V2X has the potential to take road safety to the next level by facilitating the flow of real-time information between vehicles, pedestrians, and road infrastructure. This will enable connected vehicles to anticipate and avoid dangerous situations, reducing collisions and potentially saving precious lives. This is significant also for the future of automated vehicles, which will effectively be able to see around corners, over hills and predict potential accidents.
Several live demonstrations conducted by our members have already showcased the extensive capabilities of today’s C-V2X technology, ready for deployment:
- Protecting vulnerable road users equipped with smartphones by providing real-time warnings to make drivers aware of dangerous traffic situations (e.g. red lights, emergency vehicles approaching, pedestrian crossing, school zones or work zones), using edge technology.
- Preventing incidents at dangerous intersections such as red light violations and conflicts with VRUs thanks to smart RSU equipped with C-V2X direct-short range communications.
- Notifying drivers about stopped school buses loading or unloading ahead.
- Allowing fire trucks, ambulances and police cars to request pre-empted green lights, improving emergency response safety and time. Similarly, this could apply to bus transit.
Two successful examples of live trials have been hosted recently by the City of Turin in Italy and the Commonwealth of Virginia, thanks to our association’s long-standing public-private collaboration and some of our member companies.
The demos showcased a new driver and pedestrian safety concept that allows near-real-time notification of roadway hazards. The concept uses 5G connectivity and Edge computing technology to communicate with car sensors and pedestrian smartphones via a user-authorised mobile app for Pedestrian and in-vehicle driver safety and efficient navigation.
C-V2X technology and its global deployment
To take a step back, you may be wondering how exactly this technology works.
Cellular-Vehicle-to-Everything (C-V2X), initially defined as LTE-V2X in 3GPP Release 14, is a technology that allows vehicles to communicate with each other and the wider transport ecosystem and entails two different communication modes:
- •Direct or short-range connectivity for safety applications without requiring network coverage or subscription, which gives vehicles the ability to communicate with pedestrians, riders and the road infrastructure.
- •Connectivity via regular cellular networks, which allows vehicles to communicate to a backend service or, if present, an edge computing facility (V2N).
These two technologies are complementary and answer different use-cases, to deliver the optimal setup for safety and efficiency of traffic, in addition to improving environmental footprints. Connectivity to the network informs the driver about possible problems ahead of the journey. In contrast, short-range communication enables the sending of warnings to the driver, triggering life-saving actions (e.g. braking). Several innovative automotive use cases using C-V2X technologies have emerged during the last few years. In the following years, many more will come to describe novel capabilities and new features of connected vehicles.
While Europe and US markets have been leading since 2016 with LTE mobile connectivity on their vehicles reaching as much as 80% of the new vehicles sold. China is the first country that has fully enabled C-V2X vehicles to be commercially available, including direct communications. Indeed, China has a structured 5G deployment programme with more than 40 thousand km of highways and tens of urban deployments, including the short-range component of LTE-V2X, mainly along arteries and at intersections. This is coming with a series of 14 car models which are equipped with integrated radio technology.
For the United States, the FCC has now made the right decision to allocate the 5.9GHz short-range band to LTE-V2X, and Ford has already announced LTE-V2X on all their new models this year unless the FCC proceedings are delayed.
In Europe, market analysts foresee that by 2025 one out of five connected cars sold to be 5G-ready. Moreover, the European Commission has recently published its proposal to amend the Intelligent-Transport-System Directive, welcomed by our association as a first step in the right direction to establish a forward-looking regulatory framework for ITS in the context of cooperative, connected and automated mobility and to foster the transition to newer technologies, among which 5G-V2X, in the future. 5GAA is convinced that Europe’s future success requires a neutral approach to technology and that the EU must focus on setting high-level objectives and critical KPIs on connected mobility and road digitalisation. Large-scale pilots provide tangible results and evidence that the technology is future-proof. Such pilots should be further encouraged and accelerated, for instance, via EU funding programmes like the CEF2 Digital 5G corridors that can set a new level playing field for the industry and make 5G-V2X the main enabler for smarter, safer, and more environmentally sustainable mobility.
These past years have seen revolutionising digital transformations, and challenging, innovative mobility solutions and similar use cases are more likely to become a reality soon. 5GAA keeps on shaping the new era of mobility and paves the way toward connected driving and enhanced safety for all road users.
Maxime Flament CTO 5G Automotive Association