The 5G revolution is expected to redefine mobile telecommunication. Its ultra-fast speed and low-latency connectivity will unleash new avenues of communication-based applications and solutions, particularly for the Internet-of-Things (IoT). In the future, connected devices, appliances and vehicles will make economies and communities more productive and prolific. Cellular Vehicle-to-Everything (C-V2X) technology leverages this latest innovation in telecommunications. By using sensors to connect vehicles and the roadside infrastructure, the positioning and navigation functions can be improved. The technology can alert drivers about the distance between the cars, promptly remind them to respond, and reduce traffic accidents.
The Hong Kong Applied Science and Technology Research Institute (ASTRI) dedicates its efforts in C-V2X technologies. Last year in September, ASTRI’s C-V2X solution was demonstrated in the world’s first-ever citywide trial of Smart Mobility applications in Wuxi city of Jiangsu province in the Mainland, in collaboration with Huawei and other industry players. In the Technovation Summit organised by ASTRI last month, the developments of this technology were shared and discussed.
Fraction of a second to decide and react
Dr MeiKei Ieong, Chief Technology Officer of ASTRI, pointed out that most traffic accidents occur due to errors that happen within fractions of a second or minute. Dr Ieong believes “C-V2X technologies can help save that precious second and enable drivers of connected vehicles to take the right decision and avoid accidents.” He shared that ASTRI has been exploring the possibility of rolling out C-V2X systems in Hong Kong with the Transport Department, aiming to use this meaningful solution to reduce traffic accidents in Hong Kong. Even driverless cars – operational in other parts – have met with accidents. The general public is naturally quite concerned about road safety for both human-driven and driverless vehicles. Dr Ieong believes “Connected Cars that leverage C-V2X hardware and software can greatly address these concerns.”
Yang Yongchao, Product Development Director of C-V2X solutions at Huawei, agrees with Dr Ieong‘s point of view. “Whenever there is news related to large-scale traffic accidents, I always wonder if the vehicles involved had installed the V2X systems. Collisions can be prevented by giving out warning signals within milli-seconds,” he said. The company has been actively engaged in the research of connected cars and V2X systems for over five years. “We continue to strive for better, more reliable solutions to ensure vehicular and pedestrian safety, and overall traffic efficiency,” Yang added.
Connected Cars that are ready for the 5G platform
Peter Lam, Managing Director of HKT, observed that vehicular networking used to rely on short technology in the past, whereby various restrictions kept the technology immature. As one of the most connected and advanced global cities in terms of telecommunications, Hong Kong is “well placed to lead in developing a Connected Car ecosystem, fully fuelled by the impending launch of 5G services in the city.” He referred to Hong Kong’s first real-case demonstration of C-V2X technology that took place in Science Park in 2017. “Even when the red rainstorm warning was hoisted, all the tests were completed accurately, proving the robustness of the technology,” he said.
Dr Justin Chuang, ASTRI’s Vice President of Next Generation Networks, added, “The concept of Connected Cars appeared as early as 1999, but it has been successful only recently.” The main reason for that was the yet-to-be-completed network infrastructure. With high-speed 4G already rolled almost everywhere around the world, and the 5G revolution almost here, Dr Chuang sees “No reason for us not to embrace and utilise C-V2X solutions.” In addition, recent developments in AI applications also contribute to maturing and strengthening of vehicular networking technologies. In 2015, he recalled, “I was visiting Google premises in the US where we were shown an Autonomous Vehicle (AV) fitted with millions of dollars’ worth of sensing and computing devices running sophisticated algorithms. Even that wasn’t enough for the AV to ensure complete safety, as evidenced by multiple accidents in the AV trials from multiple companies over the last three years.” C-V2X mitigates that risks in Connected Cars with low-cost, low-latency interaction between vehicles, infrastructure and the network. That, in his opinion, has already overcome the technological challenges faced by the makers of AVs in their early days and is complementary in the long run to the AV technologies with varying degrees of cost and complexity.
George Tee, Chief Technology Officer of the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation, explained how Science Park provides test sites for Internet-of-Vehicles (IoV) solutions. “Science Park works closely with technology developers and industry players to facilitate rapid development in this sector,” he said. Developing a local ecosystem of C-V2X systems will ensure early and effective introduction of the technology in Hong Kong, and “potentially solve most of the road safety traffic management development of local vehicle networking and allowing the technology to be launched in the market more quickly to solve local traffic problems”.
ASTRI is set to host its’ next big event to promote Hong Kong’s I&T development on 11 March. The “5G and IoT Forum” will take place in Hong Kong – don’t miss out.
(Information source: ASTRI)