NEC ensures communications speed for self-driving automobiles

NEC announced the development of an adaptive network control technology that allows automobiles to share information about their surroundings in real-time, even in unstable communication environments featuring numerous vehicles and communication terminals.

In recent years, expectations have been growing for the introduction of self-driving automobiles, automated guided vehicles (AGV) at factories and drones for deliveries. However, in order to avoid collisions and ensure the safety of self-driving vehicles, it is necessary for vehicles to share information about their surroundings in real-time through mobile networks.

In terms of self-driving automobiles, guidelines established by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) require that at least 95% of communications reach their destination within 100 milliseconds.

In a mobile network, however, as the number of communication terminals that are connected to a radio base station increases, the communication delay for each terminal also increases. Moreover, communication delays may differ from terminal to terminal and may fluctuate every second. As a result, it has been nearly impossible to consistently reduce communications delays to below 100 milliseconds while in busy areas, such as major intersections.

In response to this, NEC has developed an adaptive network control technology for controlling networks that prioritizes certain urgent communication terminals based on their communications flow, then immediately assigns bandwidth and communication time (radio resources) to these terminals, rather than their less urgent counterparts. This helps to ensure that data transmission is complete within the 100 millisecond target time.

This technology has been tested in a simulated traffic environment where 100 automobiles and 100 pedestrians were using a variety of communication terminals, such as smartphones, while connected to an LTE radio base station. This testing verified that an automobile’s communication delay could be shortened to 100 milliseconds or less and the rate of successful communication could reach 95%. This represents an improvement of more than five times over the conventional Proportional Fairness method of communications.

“We will continue our efforts to verify and commercialize this technology as we aim to see it applied to social systems in many different areas, such as self-driving automobiles, AGVs at factories, and drones for deliveries,” said Yuichi Nakamura, General Manager, NEC System Platform Research Laboratories.

Part of this network control technology was recently developed through “The research and development of a high-efficiency communication system for a mobile phone network that covers numerous devices.” The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications leads this research in which NEC has been involved since FY2016.

Source: NEC