Wireless technology for use in the transport sector is continuing to be developed at a rapid rate. At the world’s leading telecommunications trade fair, Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, Scania and research partner Ericsson Research are presenting a new concept for communication within the new 5G networks.
The transport industry is one of the sectors where development of connected objects capable of communicating with each other (the Internet of Things) is progressing fastest. The advantages of connectivity are obvious in a sector where effective flows are a must for achieving profitability.
Scania is investing heavily in research and development within this area. The number of connected Scania trucks using on-board computers to wirelessly send information to fleet management systems and workshops is constantly increasing and will soon reach 200,000 units.
“The concept that we are now presenting is a viable alternative to exisiting communication technologies,” says Assad Alam, Senior Engineer and road train expert within Scania R&D. “We previously used WLAN technology and existing mobile technology that communicated via base stations, but novel, mobile, device-to-device technologies are now allowing vehicles to communicate directly with each other without going via a station.”
Wireless communication between vehicles makes it possible for them to be driven in convoys, close to one another, by allowing the system to go in and take over functions such as steering and braking. This allows for air drag to be reduced, resulting in a lowering of fuel consumption and exhaust emissions. Vehicle convoys also allow for the creation of more flexible traffic flows and for roads to be used more efficiently.
A leap towards sustainable transport solutions
Scania has trialled convoy driving, or platooning, with good results over the past couple of years. Alam says the new 5G networks further increase the possibilities offered by the technology, referring to the solutions showcased by Scania and Ericsson that allows redundancy and, as a result, increased safety.
Pär Degerman, Senior Engineer and connectivity expert within Scania R&D, says vehicles that are connected – both directly to each other and to the rest of society and the transport infrastructure – are a major leap towards sustainable transport solutions.
“Connectivity creates opportunities for optimizing driving, through solutions such as platooning,” he says. “It also allows for real-time updates regarding weather conditions, obstacles on the road, and other hazards that might pose a safety risk. In addition to this, having connected vehicles will enable the use of more sophisticated planning tools, thereby increasing overall transport efficiency.”
Scania’s development engineers have worked closely with Ericsson Research on the project.
“Among other things, we have looked at the range of and delays in information transmission, with this having implications for how close together vehicles in the convoy can drive,” says Degerman. “This technology is still under development and at the research stage. The next step will be to investigate what additional challenges and opportunities remain.”
Mobile World Congress in Barcelona is the world’s largest trade fairs for mobile communication. The fair is held annually and typically attracts significant attention both from within and outside the telecommunications industry.