The autonomous traffic of the future requires a reliably networked infrastructure. And precise positioning from space will help ensure that self-driving cars keep to their lane.
First came stricter CO₂ threshold levels from the EU, then the diesel scandal and now the coronavirus crisis. The automobile industry faces many challenges at the moment. But how far has the development of autonomous vehicles progressed? According to the German Automobile Industry Association (VDA) it will be a while before self-driving cars achieve a significant market penetration. But, writing in the German financial daily Handelsblatt, the VDA stresses that investing in autonomous vehicles is important if the German automobile industry is to continue to be competitive in international markets.
Cloud Solution for More Safety
If automated mobility is to function countrywide it will not be enough for individual vehicles to be able to drive autonomously. The entire mobility system must be networked. In December 2019 a government commission, the National Platform Future of Mobility (NPM) drew up in a position paper action recommendations on how automated driving can be implemented successfully. The aim is to set up a multi- and intermodal mobility system. Traffic services are to be diversified and access is to be improved by making different modes of transportation usable flexibly at different times. Autonomous mobility is an important building block if this target is to be achieved.
The basis of autonomous mobility is road safety, and Precise Positioning is an important solution that enables self-driving cars to ensure the safety of their passengers. GNSS satellite navigation technology is unsuitable for this purpose because typical GPS navigation systems are only accurate to between three and five meters. That is not precise enough for autonomous mobility. The Precise Positioning IoT solution from Telekom and Silicon Valley-based Swift Navigation combines satellite signals and correction data from the Cloud to achieve an accuracy of as little as ten centimeters even in poor visibility. And thanks to the Cloud connection it is scalable for use by an unlimited number of autonomous vehicles and machines. Precise Positioning uses the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) and a stable cellular connection to stream correction data from the Cloud in real time. Customers in the United States and Germany already have access to the Cloud solution and work is now under way on rolling out the application across Europe.
Stable Mobile Communication as the Basis for Autonomous Driving
That is why the VDA calls for dynamic nationwide 5G coverage, including all major traffic routes and urban areas, by 2025. That is Telekom’s target too. By the end of 2020 network expansion is to reach the stage at which a majority of the population has 5G access. Since mid-July 2020, 50 percent have enjoyed it – a further building block toward connected mobility.
Connected mobility holds the promise of many benefits. If autonomous vehicles can communicate with each other via G5 they can warn each other in real time of traffic congestion, bad weather or accidents and plan alternative routes in time. Passengers will then reach their destinations safer and faster. Germany’s ADAC automobile association forecasts that automated mobility will help reduce accident numbers. Ninety per cent of traffic accidents are currently due to human error. Thanks to solutions like Precise Positioning autonomous vehicles will in future take passengers safely to their destinations even in heavy traffic and bad weather.
Connected Mobility – Safety for Traffic of the Future
Mobility of the future means intelligently networked and autonomous driving on the basis of digitized traffic systems. It may be a long time before vehicles and mobility services are connected and function autonomously but demand connected car software and IT services is on the increase. For vehicles to be connected, on the move autonomously and communicating with each other the technology basis and access must be stable and secure. Deutsche Telekom and T-Systems already provide their customers with Cloud solutions, software, security and reliable connectivity for autonomous driving.
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Digitization and the Internet of Things are among the favourite topics of Daniel Kunz. He has been with Deutsche Telekom since 2017 and regularly writes about technology trends and many exciting topics, especially for the retail trade and the logistics industry.
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