Networking tech provider Cisco and comms operator Verizon have announced success in a proof of concept showing that cellular and multi-access edge computing (MEC) technology can enable autonomous driving solutions without the use of costly physical roadside units to extend radio signals.
Cisco and Verizon believe that improving communication between vehicles and their surrounding infrastructure is essential for creating safer roadways and enabling the autonomous future of driving. Intersections must be securely connected and equipped with compute to allow applications at the edge to communicate and inform split-second decision-making.
The companies believe the positive outcomes from their trial in Las Vegas pave the way for a simpler and more efficient route to powering applications such as autonomous last-mile delivery bots and robo taxis, particularly in cities where public MEC technologies exist.
Additionally, they propose cities and roadway operators could create safer roads with C-V2X applications, including pedestrian protection, emergency and transit vehicle pre-emption, on- and off-ramp protection (such as when a loaded truck needs autonomous guidance to merge or brake safely), and potentially others that involve vehicles approaching intersections with traffic signals.
Noting the previously undiscovered aspects of the trial, Cisco and Verizon said proof of concept autonomous features in connected vehicles have always relied on roadside radios to extend the signals vehicles use for low-latency communication with each other and surrounding connected infrastructure.
The Las Vega test is said to have proved that Verizon’s LTE network and public 5G Edge with AWS Wavelength, together with Cisco Catalyst IR1101 routers in connected infrastructure, meet the latency thresholds required for autonomous driving applications – replacing the costly roadside radios previously required to meet those needs.
By using LTE and edge compute to virtualise the role of the Roadside Units, Cisco and Verizon claim C-V2X communications proved to be faster, more reliable and more streamlined – likely to result in improved efficiency and cost effectiveness for municipalities, infrastructure providers and application developers working with autonomous vehicles.
The result, the firms added, demonstrates that connected and autonomous vehicle applications can be deployed today using LTE networks, MEC, and in-vehicle interfaces deployed by manufacturers. These capabilities are attributed with leading to safer, less congested roads in current connected and autonomous vehicles, with scalability for future applications hosted at the edge and using LTE and 5G connectivity.
“This test is a huge milestone in proving that the future of connectivity for IoT applications can be powered by cellular,” said Krishna Iyer, director of systems architecture at Verizon. “We’re marking the strength of mobile edge compute platforms for connected transportation innovation with much more streamlined architecture. Together with Cisco technologies, we’re setting the foundation potentially to realise a ubiquitous IoT in the connected and autonomous future of driving.”
Mark Knellinger, lead transportation solutions architect at Cisco, added: “The future of autonomous vehicles cannot progress without reliable communication between vehicles and their surrounding environments. This is huge for roadway operators in that it relieves them of the massive expense of deploying and operating a dedicated V2X environment.”