Gamers have for many years driven vehicles on their computers. Scania is now leaving the virtual world and remotely driving real trucks on the road. Using 5G technology, Scania engineers are now able to steer and operate trucks from a remote control centre.
Self-driving trucks and buses are designed to master the most complex traffic situations but, as a contingency, systems must be in place in case these vehicles get in a quandary. Scania, in partnership with Ericsson, is now developing remote control systems for operators to manually take command over autonomous vehicles.
“This is our fall-back solution for when vehicles aren’t technically or legally able to operate,” explains Jimmy Selling, Software Developer at Scania R&D.
Collaboration with Ericsson
One typical scenario is that a vehicle encounters an object that it does not recognise and cannot pass without violating traffic rules. It will then come to a halt by that object and call on a human operator for assistance. The operator will then decide whether to override the situation or manually take control.
Driving in real time, Scania makes use of coming 5G telecommunications networks, and for this a state-of-the-art mobile base station has been installed at Scania’s R&D facility. Scania is the first company to test Ericsson’s new 5G technology components, as part of a collaboration with Ericsson Research.
The test network with its 5G components allows for a reliable, mobile network service with very low-latency (delay) of a few milliseconds and high bandwidth. More importantly, 5G opens opportunities for exclusive device-to-device communications or device-to-cloud communications. When applied to autonomous vehicles, these would be allocated an exclusive spectrum for their communications or, in this case, an exclusive spectrum for communications between the operator and vehicle.
“That is a key factor in making this work,” explains Selling. “It doesn’t matter if you are passing a football stadium or people are YouTubing in the background, we will still have a safe and reliable network with a low-latency video stream.”