Telefónica and SEAT have carried out a test in the Spanish city of Segovia to show how road infrastructure can communicate with vehicles through existing mobile networks. This is the first time the Cellular-Vehicle 2 everything (C-V2X) protocol has been tested in the country and another step forward for Telefónica’s 5G Technological Cities project.

SEAT contributed an Ateca car, equipped with the latest connectivity technology and modified to issue alerts to the driver through the instrument panel. The initiative was carried out in collaboration with Ficosa, which manufactured the C-V2X (Cellular V2X) communication device in the car; Sice, owner of the road infrastructure that equipped traffic lights at an intersection with connectivity, and Nokia. It implemented a Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC) server to act as the communication platform between vehicle and infrastructure.

The two use cases of assisted driving consisted of:

  • The car receiving an alert from a traffic light when a pedestrian was walking across the road at a blind right-hand corner. In addition, had the driver put the right-hand indicator on, an alert would have appeared on the instrument panel warning that the pedestrian was there.
  • The car receiving an alert from a traffic light that it was about to change to red. Depending to its location, speed and course, the vehicle then decides whether it has enough time to cross the intersection. If not, a warning appears on the instrument panel so the driver come to a controlled stop.

The application was embedded on a MEC server, which acted as an intermediary between the infrastructure and the vehicle, to obtain stable low latencies. Both use cases were based on the standard C-V2X protocol to enable vehicular communication via the existing mobile infrastructure.

This shows the potential there is when 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 surroundings of the vehicle and improve road safety.

Telefónica’s manager of innovation, Mercedes Fernández, commented, “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.”

“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”.

According to Álvaro Sanchez, director of Telefónica Spain account at Nokia, “[MEC] is a key element of the 5G architecture, providing processing resources close to where they are needed and…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”.

The test is within the 5G Technological Cities project launched by Telefónica last January to turn Talavera de la Reina and Segovia into real 5G settings where both the technological implementation and use cases can be rolled out to highlight the capabilities of the new generation of mobile telephone technologies.

As Fabian Simmer, digital officer, SEAT, observed, “The development of these initial cases of interaction between the car and 5G technology enables us to continue to make progress in our goal of offering drivers a more enjoyable and safer experience at the wheel”.

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