Tech Company Ericsson has published a report suggesting that it will, in the near future, be a common occurrence to see driverless buses on city streets.
Its Mobility Report says that a key step towards introducing autonomously driven buses into the public transport system is the development of remote monitoring and control capabilities, which will help to ensure safety.
It explains that, while autonomous vehicles could revolutionise mass transport as we know it, their safety has been widely debated. To address this concern, remote operation brings a safety mechanism that allows public buses to be monitored and controlled by a remote operator from a distance, if needed. The vision of operators scanning screens and on-hand to intervene if necessary, should contribute to public acceptance of autonomous vehicles.
Network requirements for remote operation include broad coverage, high data throughput and low latency to enable continuous video streaming and to send commands between a remote operations centre and a vehicle. 5G will bring a number of benefits to remote control systems, including core network slicing that will enable priority service provisioning, and radio access to bring ultra-low latency and “beamforming” for high throughput and capacity.
The report uses Scania as an example. It says that, at its headquarters in Södertälje, Sweden, Scania has a 5G proof-of-concept test network devoted to controlling a bus remotely from a vehicle operations centre. Work at the site is focused on two important areas: total system response time for remote monitoring and control, and the automated tools required to provision prioritised network services.
The tests involve a remote operator driving a bus around the test track, as well as to and from the parking facilities. Sensor data from the bus, including a high-resolution video feed, is streamed to the remote operations centre over LTE radio access with an evolved 5G core network. The testbed features automated service ordering and provisioning, allowing the set-up and take-down of prioritised network resources needed for the remote monitoring and operation.
The report also covers such things as the research’s concept vehicle and ways to reduce system response time.