Spanish telecommunications company Telefónica and automaker SEAT have demonstrated the first use of cellular vehicle-to-everything (C-V2X) communications technology using existing mobile networks in a real urban setting in Spain.
Part of Telefonica’s 5G Technological Cities project to make the Spanish cities of Talavera and Segovia 5G-ready, the pilot test demonstrated how road infrastructure ‘communicates’ with vehicles via the existing mobile network by sending alerts to the car in the event of dangerous or changing conditions.
For the demo, SEAT contributed a modified Ateca vehicle equipped with the latest connectivity technology to issue alerts to the driver through the instrument panel. The initiative was also carried out in collaboration with: automotive components supplier FICOSA, which manufactured the C-V2X communication device in the car; SICE, the owner of the road infrastructure, which collaborated by equipping intersection traffic lights with connectivity; and Nokia, which implemented an MEC (Multi-access Edge Computing) server that acted as the communication platform between the vehicle and the road infrastructure.
The two C-V2X use cases of assisted driving presented in Segovia consisted of:
• The vehicle receiving an alert from a traffic light when a pedestrian is crossing the road on a blind right-hand corner. In addition, if the driver signals their intent to turn by indicating right, the vehicle displays an alert on the instrument panel that there is a pedestrian crossing the road;
• The vehicle receiving an alert from a traffic light when it is about to change to red. According to its location, speed and course, the vehicle decides whether it has enough time to cross the intersection. If not, a warning alert is displayed on the instrument panel, so the driver can prepare for a controlled stop.
To achieve this, and with the goal of obtaining stable lower latencies, it was essential to implement the MEC server, where the application was embedded to operate as an intermediary between the infrastructure and the vehicle, making pre-5G use possible.
Both use cases are based on the standard C-V2X protocol, demonstrated for the first time in Spain, to enable vehicular communication via the existing mobile infrastructure. The pilot showed the potential of combining the C-V2X protocol with information gathered by additional sensors (a camera installed on a traffic light that detects pedestrians), to provide information about the vehicle’s surroundings and increase road safety.
“The advantage of using C-V2X technology on top of the mobile network is that it provides vehicles with additional information about their surroundings, and draws from the existing network without the need for specific implementations,” explained Telefónica’s manager of innovation, Mercedes Fernández.
“Thanks to decreased levels of latency achieved by the improvements introduced in the LTE 4.9 network (pre-5G), we can now offer new cases of assisted driving. As the network develops and latencies diminish, use cases will advance towards cooperative as well as autonomous driving.”
Álvaro Sanchez, director of Telefónica Spain’s account at Nokia, added, “Multi-access Edge Computing is a key element of the 5G architecture, providing processing resources close to where they are needed and thereby enabling near real-time responsiveness of applications. This is critical for use cases like assisted driving and further evolutionary steps, where fractions of a second make a big difference for traffic safety.”