Gear up for the 5G Revolution in the Automotive Space

A few decades ago, scientists and activists were mind blown by the sudden explosion in the human population, attributing it to the hippie movement, the after-war effects, and the baby boom. Today, we are experiencing an even bigger explosion — the explosion of machines and the data they produce. 

 

According to Futurism, the total number of connected devices will soon surpass the total number of humans on this planet. Considering the millions of data bytes created across the world every minute, this is not only impacting the IoT business but is also affecting over the top (OTT), OT, and original equipment manufacturer (OEM) verticals. With 5G promising to cater to the needs and requirements of the end-user in the verticals, telecom service providers need to focus on these individual lines of business carefully.

 

Data in the Automotive Sector

The automotive industry has been anticipating this for a while, and their engineers have developed and enabled various new features with 5G. Let’s have a look at the below image to understand the requirements of multiple verticals and the capabilities of the 5G network:

From release 15 to release 18, the 5G specification carefully and successfully tried to address most of the vertical’s requirements. Also, for the first time since the inception of wireless communications, the vertical-specific players are paying attention and making serious efforts to have their own wireless communications network. This is made possible by the simplicity, flexibility, and wide usability of the 3GPP’s latest invention —the 5G telecommunications standard.

Connecting with the Future

The future of auto-driving presents many opportunities for cars and vehicles that need to communicate with not just other vehicles, but infrastructure, clouds, pedestrians, and devices too. Thus, the vehicle-to-everything (V2X) connectivity requires 5G to be functional and effective. Some leading associations like the 5G Automotive Association (5GAA) are making notable efforts to enable 5G in the automotive segment.

In one of our earlier blogs, we discussed smart vehicles, their working model, and how 5G or MEC will accelerate the development of smart vehicles. In this blog, we will discuss two automotive industry-related use cases — the Cellular V2X and vehicle platooning, which count on 5G network capabilities. We will also explore the opportunities for network operators, OEMs, and technology players in this space.

Two Key Use Cases – Cellular V2X and Vehicle Platooning

3GPP has researched the automotive industry requirements and expectations from the 5G networking standard in great detail. With Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC), Millimetre Wave Transmission (mWT), Location Management Service (LMS), and Non-IP Networking (NIN), advancements in features like V2X vehicle platooning is now possible.

Riding the mmWave for Autonomous Vehicles

After HD maps, V2X is the second most important input Maps – to Adaptive Cruise Control (ADC) for autonomous vehicles. At any ACC level (Read more about ACC levels 1 to 5 here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-driving_car#Levels_of_driving_automation), the vehicle communicates with the environment through one of the following means: Ultrasonic sound, Video cameras, LIDARs, and mmWaves. The benefits and drawbacks of each are discussed in the following table:

Scenario Ultrasonic sound 5G mmWave / RADAR LIDAR Video camera
Rain Works No problem Issues Issues
Snow Works No problem Issues Issues
Fog Works No problem Works Issues
Night Works No problem Works Issues
Heavy sunlight Works No problem Issues Issues
Object recognition Issues Issues Works Works
Distance Up to 5 meters Up to 200 meters Up to 150 meters Up to 100 meters

From the above comparison, we can see that the mmWave is the best fit for communications with the environment while being a vital part of smart moving objects like vehicles and drones. 

Empowered with 5G, the telecommunications network looks more promising if they are to fulfill these requirements. Leading OEMs and network operators have already started leveraging this opportunity.

The 5G mmwave can single-handedly achieve low-level autonomous driving like vehicle platooning, which is more relevant to heavy transport vehicles than personal or passenger vehicles. Additionally, several social issues can be resolved through the use of truck platooning. Here’s how.

Platooning can enable trucks to drive closer together, reducing wind resistance, fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. Lots of studies have shown the practical demonstration of vehicle platooning.

Decoding the Role of MEC in Automotive 5G

Multi Edge Cloud computing is another fundamental feature that solves the exact pain point of latency in the right way – moving the cloud as close to the edge devices as possible.

This is possible because of the simple, yet effective, Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) feature of 5G. NFV can open the doors to many business opportunities for private and public network operators, network enablers, and technology companies.

The Need for Speed: Non-IP Networking (NIN)

At its very core, 5G is an IP-based network. However, with low latency requirements like V2X public and road safety use cases, low latency data transfer is more important than the data security and node identity. The Non-IP Networking (NIN) support solves this problem and fulfills these requirements. Typical use cases derived on top of C-V2X include automated traffic control and blind-spot safety. A few more are V2V, V2I, and V2N.

Where are you at, Now Answered with Location Management Service (LMS)

Vehicle positioning is not new. However, satellite-based positioning has fundamental limitations in the case of junctions, subways, over bridges, and more. And these problems have always been increasing over time. Well, not anymore. Vehicles on roads can now be better positioned using a combination of satellite and 5G positioning. Street-level millimeter wave (mmWave) base stations play an important role and have increased the speed of positioning to a great extent.

Enhancements for More Accurate Positioning Algorithms

The established distance calculation algorithms, like Trilateration, Centroid Localization, or Fingerprinting, all have one fundamental limitation. They assume the size of the UE (a vehicle in this case) as zero. With vehicles including multi-axle transport vehicles, this is no longer the case.

We need to improve the algorithms by adding the error reduction logic to them, based on the position of the 5G chip installed in/on the vehicle.

Understanding the Universal Subscriber Identity Module (USIM)

The USIM is a vital component of V2X, and it must allow users to change the service provider seamlessly while protecting consumer choices.

The 5G USIM installed on vehicles for V2X communications has two main operation modes — PC5 and LTE-Uu. However, there are the following special operating conditions to it:

  1. The UE is constantly moving, at least while in use. This is why the HPLMN to VPLMN handover and vice versa should be smooth and fast.
  2. The Vehicle USIM is always under constant security threat and should be protected against any security breach, including PII (Personally Identifiable Information) like timed location information.
  3. In case of accidents, the USIM should detect the jammers installed on the roadside and report such incidents while it is back in the network and the other networks available in that area.

5G: A linchpin in the Automotive Industry

With the arrival of artificial intelligence players building cutting-edge technology solutions around 5G technology, network operators and OEMs, technology companies, and private network operators now have a variety of opportunities at their fingertips. However, for 5G to live up to the hype, some challenges need to be addressed. 5G and MEC are about to revolutionize the automotive industry by bringing a safer, more convenient drive while routing, moving, and parking. With our expertise across the telecom core/4G/5G, GS Lab is uniquely poised and extremely excited to take up these challenges. With our potential in MEC and a proven track record in application development, we are all geared up for the roller coaster ride ahead.

Co-author/Contributor of the blog: Dipak Zope

Aman-Thakral
Author

Aman Thakral | Senior Software Engineer

Aman Thakral is a Senior Software Engineer at GS Lab and has 4+ years of experience in the software industry. He is an experienced backend developer and has worked on technologies like telecom and VoIP. Aman has hands-on experience in GoLang, C++, k8s, docker, and several other tools. He has a keen interest in backend development and learning new technologies.