Technology company Cisco and telecoms supplier Verizon say they have collaborated on a successful proof-of-concept demonstration in the US city of Las Vegas, testing whether cellular and mobile edge compute (MEC) technology can enable autonomous driving solutions without the use of costly physical roadside units to extend radio signals.
The companies claim that the test paves an efficient route to powering applications such as autonomous/unmanned last-mile delivery bots and robotaxis in cities where public MEC technologies already exist. Furthermore, they note that 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 (e.g. when a loaded truck needs autonomous guidance to merge or brake safely), and potentially others that involve vehicles approaching intersections with traffic signals.
Autonomous features in connected vehicles tend to rely on roadside radios to extend the signals that vehicles use for low-latency communication with each other and with surrounding connected infrastructure. The Cisco and Verizon test showed that Verizon’s LTE network and public 5G Edge with AWS Wavelength, together with Cisco Catalyst IR1101 routers in connected infrastructure, were able to meet the latency thresholds required for autonomous driving applications – replacing costly roadside transmitters.
By using LTE and edge compute to virtualize the role of the roadside units, C-V2X communications proved to be more streamlined – likely to result in improved efficiency and cost-effectiveness for municipalities, infrastructure providers and application developers working with autonomous vehicles. (C-V2X refers to a vehicle’s ability to communicate with other vehicles and connected infrastructure surrounding it.)
“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’s technologies, we’re setting the foundation potentially to realize a ubiquitous IoT in the connected and autonomous future of driving.”