Safety, safety, and more safety. It may sound repetitive, but that is how companies in the connected cars industry are approaching the challenges to make solutions like self-driving vehicles more than just a subject for sci-fi movies.
At least that is the feeling at MWC23, where several companies showcased their solutions spanning from MEC to chipsets, cloud, and short-range.
The concern over road safety is justified. According to an initial report released by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2022, self-driving cars ranging from levels three through five were involved in 130 crashes countrywide in one year.
The vast majority of the incidents were caused by issues with telematics, a technique to monitor vehicles using technology like GPS.
Each company has a different approach to the issue, which is creating a plural portfolio of solutions.
“The fatalities of pedestrians and bicycle riders has increased over the years, while it should be decreasing,” said Shailesh Patil, Senior Director of Technology at Qualcomm, during a tour organised by automotive initiative 5GAA. “And what we are looking at is cloud-based solutions.”
It sounds simple: in a perfect scenario, the apps send location information to the cloud or report it back to the car. The problem is that not always will the scenario be perfect. “The GPS location could be really bad in some areas, and the network latency can be higher, for example.”
Qualcomm is addressing these challenges by using the cloud to monitor motion and predict whether a pedestrian will cross paths with a car, even when they are out of sight or metres away. The driver receives an alert every time there is a possible collusion ahead.
German operator Deutsche Telekom is taking a different, although similar, approach to the problem: end-user devices.
Instead of depending on the manufacturers to have the connected solutions installed, Deutsche Telekom and road safety business Spoke are investing in accessories that can be attached to a bicycle or a scooter (see in the featured picture). Those devices send and receive location information, shooting an alert when cars are approaching, for example.
When 6G Enters the Conversation
Today, those solutions use LTE and 5G to work. With 6G and future networks, there should be better integration between different types of transmission to make sure connected vehicles are always online, sending and receiving critical information.
“We will have high-altitude platforms and satellites [in addition to terrestrial networks],” explained Thomas Heyn, Group Manager at Fraunhofer IIS. “But the architecture will get more and more complex, which means more interference and a need for more allocation,” he observed.
Here is where 6G could connect the dots, according to Heyn. “6G will enable tighter integration between platforms and satellites. That is one aspect that has started with 5G and will be developed in future releases,” he concluded.
Featured picture by Caio Castro/6GWorld
Journalist since eight years old, when I would read the newspaper out loud and pretend it was a radio show. Based in São Paulo, I have worked for Brazilian websites as reporter and editor before joining 6GWorld