Deutsche Telekom, Fraunhofer ESK, Hexagon and Nokia complete tests of automated driving technology on the A9 Digital Test Track
During a series of drive tests on the A9 motorway digital test track in Germany, Deutsche Telekom, Fraunhofer ESK, Hexagon and Nokia have achieved a milestone on the path to safe automated driving. The companies achieved a positioning accuracy for vehicles in the range of centimeters, demonstrating the effectiveness of their combined technologies.
Currently available mass market technology provides a positioning accuracy in the range of meters. Bringing this down to centimeter range in a way that qualifies for mass market use is an important prerequisite for future autonomous driving. Key for improving the level of accuracy was the successful integration of various technologies in this live testing environment.
Connecting on the go
The digital test track on the A9 is covered by eight eNodeB base stations of Deutsche Telekom’s LTE live network. The test cars traveling on the A9 connected to the network and received the correction data via the radio cell covering their exact position.
“Mobile connectivity is the basis for reception of correction data, which is the prerequisite for precise positioning. Our fast and almost nationwide network enables the data transfer in real time,” said Alex Choi, SVP Research and Technology Innovation at Deutsche Telekom. “We are a committed partner in cross-industry activities to develop connectivity based solutions to enable safer and more efficient mobility.”
Regionalisation outperforms individual nodes
Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC) technology by Nokia is a key component to enable precise positioning for the mass market. Instead of providing individualized correction data for every single vehicle, MEC allows the dissemination of regionalized correction data to all vehicles in a specific area at the same time. This reduces network traffic and is more cost efficient. The MEC resources are located in close proximity to Deutsche Telekom’s cell towers along the A9. They provide the platform and computing power for the application by Hexagon, which requests the regionalized HxGN SmartNet correction data for the respective area covered by each radio cell and disseminates it to the vehicles inside this area via MEC.
“The results of our driving test show that MEC is the ideal platform to provide precise positioning to a multitude of vehicles in the most efficient way, which is a milestone on the path to safe autonomous driving,” said Thorsten Robrecht, Vice President Vertical Network Slices at Nokia. “It also demonstrates how important it is that we leave our traditional industry silos behind and cooperate in ecosystems on concrete use cases. It’s the way to overcome challenges and open the path for innovation with a clear business perspective.”
Precision positioning through information sharing
The precise positioning service, HxGN SmartNet, was used to supply regional corrections directly to Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) receivers in the automobile. As the world’s largest reference network, the project test engineers were able to accurately validate the exact position of the automobile with centimeter precision throughout most of the test. With more than 4,000 reference stations worldwide, GNSS correction data was streamed to the automobile in real time, allowing for on-the-second information collection and the most informed decision making while on the roadway with other vehicles.
“This test shows the superiority of precise positioning services, like HxGN SmartNet, in combination with GNSS technology on the automobile. When you’re able to bring together permanent GNSS reference stations from around the world into a cohesive network, anything is possible,” said Robert Martin, HxGN SmartNet business director. “We strongly believe in creating cross-industry ecosystems where solutions are created by sharing information. We are glad for the opportunity to participate in a project based in such a sharing economy and to support safer and more efficient operations on our roadways.”
Integrated end-to-end connectivity
The connectivity solution for precise positioning within the car communication unit (CCU) was designed and integrated by Fraunhofer ESK. The communication protocols distribute unicast and broadcast RTK (Real-Time Kinematic) correction data from MEC or backend servers to multiple GNSS receivers via serial and WiFi interfaces in real-time. Moreover, the CCU performs logging of synchronized positioning data and essential connectivity parameters. Fraunhofer ESK provided its test vehicle VICTOR, which is equipped with GNSS receivers under test and a reference receiver and supported the evaluation.
“Reliable and predictable communication is the key to enabling future applications for automated and connected driving in higher automation levels. Reliable and efficient precise positioning represents one of the early milestones”, said Josef Jiru, Department Head Communication Technologies and Architectures at Fraunhofer ESK. “We support the automotive and telecom industry in the prototyping and evaluation of new connected applications and protocols with upcoming communication technologies and architectures.”
Final results, next steps
In direct comparison, the initial tests at the A9 showed superior accuracy of the precise positioning compared to legacy service, even at higher speeds. The end-to-end performance, however, was found to be mainly determined by the quality of the GNSS receiver and the positioning algorithm. In a next step, the robustness of these receivers now needs to be optimized. The partners will continue the research by extending the drive tests to the entire mobile network and by adding different driving maneuvers and speed levels.
Deutsche Telekom, Philipp Kornstädt, +49 228 18194053, mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Fraunhofer ESK, Hans-Thomas Hengl, +49 89 547088-396, mail: email@example.com
Hexagon Geosystems, Penny Boviatsou, +41 41 727 8960, mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Nokia, Bernhard Fuckert, +49 162 2836967, mail: email@example.com
Deutsche Telekom is one of the world's leading integrated telecommunications companies, with some 165 million mobile customers, 28,5 million fixed-network lines, and 18,5 million broadband lines.. We provide fixed-network/broadband, mobile communications, Internet, and IPTV products and services for consumers, and information and communication technology (ICT) solutions for business and corporate customers. Deutsche Telekom is present in more than 50 countries.
Fraunhofer ESK focuses on applied research in the field of information and communication technologies with an emphasis on reliable communication systems. Backed by expertise in the areas of communication technologies & architecture and application architecture design & validation, the institute is active in the connected mobility, industrial communication, smart grid communication and telecommunication industries. Fraunhofer ESK is a member of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, the largest organization for applied research in Europe.
Hexagon Geosystems is the complete reality-capture solutions provider. With a sharp focus on information technologies that capture, measure, and visualise data, our high-quality products and solutions create real digital worlds. With more than 4,500 employees in 33 countries operating technology and service centres on three continents with partners in 120 countries, we have the global reach to work with organisations through precise measuring instruments, engaging software, and trusted services.
Hexagon Geosystems is part of Hexagon (Nasdaq Stockholm: HEXA B; hexagon.com), a leading global provider of information technology solutions that drive productivity and quality across geospatial and industrial landscapes.
Nokia: We create the technology to connect the world. Powered by the research and innovation of Nokia Bell Labs, we serve communications service providers, governments, large enterprises and consumers, with the industry’s most complete, end-to-end portfolio of products, services and licensing.
Nokia is enabling the infrastructure for 5G and the Internet of Things, and shaping the future of technology to transform the human experience. www.nokia.com