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Market trends and business perspectives

Car2MEC connected driving tests concluded

Local cloud computing (Multi-access Edge Computing – MEC) is a key enabling technology for connected driving, specifically for driving safety.

It is vitally important that the industries involved in connected driving work closely together to turn the concepts into sustainable business for all parties involved.

These are the main conclusions of the Car2MEC project after two years of intensive trialling and testing by Continental, Deutsche Telekom, Fraunhofer ESK, MHP and Nokia on the A9 motorway digital test track in Germany.

Car2MEC was funded by the Bavarian Ministry for Economic Affairs. The goal of the project was to gain insights into the value of MEC for connected driving with regards to technology and network architecture as well as economically.

The project partners tested a number of different use cases on the A9 motorway, including “emergency warning”, “end of jam warning”, “variable speed limit assistant” and “HD maps”.

Ronald Hain, backend team leader, Interior Systems & Technology, Continental: “In the future, Multi-access Edge Computing will be a very important communication technology for the connected vehicle.

“Closing the gap between local real-time applications and cloud services will allow us to enhance automated driving and enable vehicles to cooperate with each other.

“In addition, local services effectively utilize the data rate of LTE or 5G networks. Continental is currently working on a vehicle architecture that takes this communication technology into account.”

Deutsche Telekom deployed a project specific infrastructure with two locally separated MEC in the test area at the A9 motorway. The testbed shared resources with the LTE live network and had been operated for 12 months allowing for extensive test drives.

This set up was a unique opportunity to assess MEC technology in a real-world environment: public road and commercial cellular network with many parallel users.

“The project results validate the performance of edge computing over our 4G networks as a potential enabler for automotive cases that require low latency and ultra-high reliability,” says Alex Jinsung Choi, Senior Vice President Strategy and Technology Innovation, Deutsche Telekom.

“Going forward, we will continue to collaborate with partners in the automotive sector on the evolution of the technology and its application in connected and automated driving solutions that will deliver the best driving experience.”

In the project, Fraunhofer ESK’s hybrid communication units enabled time-sensitive applications for connected vehicles with proven, standardised protocol and message sets.

A highly efficient distributed messaging service (GeoService) deployed on the multi-access edge nodes provided low-latency connectivity between the vehicles and a direct link to localised services.

In combination with Fraunhofer ESK’s adaptive networking algorithms, which select the most suitable communication path at runtime, the complementary strengths of different technologies can be exploited to provide optimised Quality-of-Service (QoS) for each application and context.

Karsten Roscher, senior scientist at Fraunhofer ESK: “This project gave us the chance to evaluate and enhance our hybrid ETSI ITS solution in a commercial cellular network with future 5G additions in mind.

“While the edge cloud improved end-to-end latency by more than 20ms, the 4G radio access network is still a limiting factor for more demanding future services. However, we believe the combination of edge cloud and 5G will shape a completely new landscape of connected and distributed applications.”

MHP provided insights into MEC’s value for connected driving from a business perspective and identified critical success factors for potential commercial ecosystems driven by the new technology.

The business opportunities MEC offers to the automotive industry are ambiguous, yet promising. Several possible areas of action were identified in the project.

Cooperation and partnerships, in addition to standardisation and a clear value proposition for each stakeholder’s investment, are seen as crucial for future development.

Olaf Kleindienst, partner at MHP: “Everybody is talking about the connected car and, in some ways, the connected car is already there. But it still has some way to go and many questions remain, particularly around the fully connected car.

“The fully connected car represents a new environment for the automotive industry and the established key players must reinvent themselves, with new business models.

“We see projects like Car2MEC as an excellent opportunity to think ahead and discuss questions around this new environment at an early stage, with different perspectives.”

Nokia’s Multi-access Edge Computing technology (MEC) brings cloud computing resources closer to the roadside, enabling much faster reaction times (latency) in the network compared to centralised cloud architectures.

This is crucial for applications like emergency warning or end-of-jam warning where milliseconds can make a big difference.

The testing confirmed that time critical information can be delivered from one car to another in less than 30 ms in an LTE network combined with a MEC based Edge Cloud.

Also, the performance of latency critical and data intense applications like HD positioning and maps improved significantly when supported by an Edge Cloud infrastructure.

Uwe Puetzschler, head of Car2X at Nokia: “The results from this project mark a big step forward on the way to safe and automated driving.

“We have demonstrated that the Edge Cloud on top of 4G and 5G networks allows to deploy distributed applications that meet the requirements of the automotive industry in terms of latency and reliability. This will accelerate a commercial deployment of the technology.”