Bosch, Nokia and Deutsche Telekom developing ‘local clouds’ for improved road safety

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Three of the leaders in connected vehicle research and development have been testing a new vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications system that combines ‘cloud’ technology with a cellular network to provide advance warnings to drivers.

Vehicle connectivity can greatly reduce the number of accidents resulting from drivers and vehicles having a limited field of vision. Together with Nokia and Deutsche Telekom, Bosch is developing local cloud solutions, and working on the complete integration of vehicles via the cellular network, all the way through to the Bosch IoT (Internet of Things) Cloud. The companies are employing Mobile Edge Computing (MEC), a cellular network technology that uses a local cloud to aggregate and process latency-critical information and distribute it to drivers. Unlike most clouds, this local cloud is situated directly at a mobile base station near the roadside, and not on the internet.

By 2020, the partners want to drive forward the expansion of cellular technology and corresponding connected driving functions, as part of the introduction of the 5G network, with the particular aim of enabling higher levels of automated driving. To achieve this, vehicles must be capable of communicating, both with each other and via a server, in either a central or a local cloud, depending on requirements. The partnership involved a project team implementing driver assistance functions, such as the intersection assistant and the electronic brake light, and using them to validate communication via a local cloud at Bosch’s proving ground in Boxberg, Germany, as against a central cloud.

For the intersection assistant to work, vehicles must regularly send their location and movement data to the server. This data is compared with that of nearby vehicles in light of the rules governing right of way. If there is danger of an accident occurring, a warning message is displayed in the vehicle that does not have the right of way. Outside of cities, where vehicles travel at higher speeds, there is a definite speed advantage if data takes the short route via the local cloud. Compared with systems that exchange information via a central cloud, local cloud approaches are at least three times faster, and they have much lower variances in the case of V2V latencies under 20 milliseconds. In some situations, this can make the difference as to whether the information reaches the car on time, and the driver or the safety function can react quickly enough.

Each of the three partners brings their own expertise to the project. Bosch is responsible for functions such as the intersection assistant and the electronic brake light, together with their implementation in the vehicle and on the server, both in the local cloud, as well as through integration into a central cloud. As part of its implementation responsibilities, Bosch is also looking after the special security and privacy requirements for V2V communication. Deutsche Telekom is providing the cell phone masts, the cellular network and the base station. Nokia is supplying the requisite MEC software and hardware for the local cloud, enabling low-latency communication between the cars and cloud.

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International magazine and the Traffic Technology Today website since he joined the company in May 2014. Prior to this he worked on some of the UK's leading consumer magazine titles including Men's Health and Glamour, beginning his career in journalism in 1997 after graduating with a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).

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