5G on trial for advanced HGV communications

| Transport

V2V communicatrions at Scania

Collaborative project sees Ericsson and Scania develop and test the use of 5G networks for advanced communication systems for freight vehicles.

The use of 5G communications in the field of transport communications is under trial as part of a new collaboration between telecommunications giant, Ericsson and Scandinavian commercial vehicle manufacturer, Scania.

With its well-established work on the advancement of such advanced vehicle technologies as truck platooning and autonomous drive, Scania is exploring one of the critical elements of achieving safe and successful autonomy in commercial vehicles – low latency communications.

Long heralded as being the next greatest advance in mobile communications that will enable the internet of things and open up bandwidth to accept the large expected volume increase in connected devices, 5G technology still has some way to go before it can become used in a widespread fashion.

To advance the technology, Ericsson and Scania have already installed 3 state-of-the-art mobile base stations at the vehicle manufacturer’s research and development facility and the accompanying test network will be upgraded on a constant basis as the technology is developed.

According to Scania’s Project Manager for City Automation, Anders Ställberg, the requirement for autonomous vehicles is for a “priority communications lane” offering low-latency, or delay, and high bandwidth so that complex critical data can be transferred at high speeds and very reliably.

Having access to such a priority lane in earlier technology networks, such as the current 4G, has been difficult due to overcrowded bandwidth.

The low latency offered by 5G is essential to autonomy and platooning. In telecommunications, latency is the delay between the transmission of a signal and the receipt of it. Echoes on old style telephones were an extreme example of high latency. When vehicles are trying to cooperatively engage in platooning and perform manoeuvres as one, any latency becomes intolerable and variability in latency results in unpredictability. Currently, such vehicles use WLAN technology to communicate but 5G is being tabled as a practical alternative.

Commenting on the cooperative approach being taken by Scania and Ericsson, Anders Ställberg said, “It allows Scania to further develop the capabilities underpinning our ongoing projects, while Ericsson fulfils its desire to test its new technology in a working, practical environment.”

As far as Ericsson is concerned, they have the ambition of deploying the technology to a wider audience, as explained by the company’s Programme Director for the 5G National Research Programme, Torbjörn Lundahl, who told us, “We want to show other companies how 5G can enable and support the digital transformation of their industry., We hope to gain valuable insights and innovations that will pave the way for further digitalisation, using 5G as an enabler. The trials with Scania will help us to understand the requirements to ensure they are met by the 5G standard and products, and deepens our experience with the transport sector which is a focus industry for Ericsson.”

Looking ahead, the trials will not just be limited to the Södertälje testing facility. Scania will also have access to the 5G connection at Ericsson’s head office. In fact, Ericsson’s 5G test network in Kista was already used to trial smaller, self-driving buses at the end of April during Drive Sweden’s ‘Kista Mobility Week’. And, Kista will be the venue for future demos of autonomous vehicles for Scania’s city automation project.

Jonathan Newell
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