ERTICO-coordinated European project 5G-MOBIX will develop and test automated vehicle functionalities using 5G core technological innovations along two cross-border corridors and six pre-deployment trial sites, two of which are located in China and South Korea. In this interview, meet Geerd Kakes, member of the 5G-MOBIX technical management team involved in the Dutch trial site, and learn about the latest outcomes of 5G-MOBIX’ testing of 5G for Automated Driving.

Who is KPN and what is your role in 5G-MOBIX?

KPN is the incumbent telecommunications provider in the Netherlands, offering mobile, fixed and television services. With our mobility fieldlab we are participating in 5G-MOBIX, and our goal is to prepare for the upcoming demand of Automated Driving technology and find out how we need to adapt our networks and services.

In our Dutch trial site, where TNO, Siemens, TUE and VTT work together, we have three 5G networks. We can simulate a border crossing at the A270 highway with two of the 5G networks (KPN and TNO) and test different technologies to increase the continuity for Connected and Automated Mobility (CAM). In addition, the TUE 5G network is focusing on localisation. The networks are based on a stand-alone technology, making it possible to test the new 5G features in the core of the network. KPN deployed a first version of this network last year August, together with Ericsson, and next month we will deploy a new version of the core, enabling new features in our SA Core. This will allow us to test with multiple edges and multiple slices in our network.”

You have recently carried out some test in the Dutch trial site. What did these tests consist of? Why are they important for 5G-MOBIX?

“Last month we conducted a remote driving trial in a closed off parking lot at the A270 highway. We tested with two vehicles, connected to two remote driving stations. All tests were done with a real driver in the vehicle and with a remote driver, allowing us to compare the performance of a remote driven vehicle with a local driven one. The first test consisted of a stop test where the driver had to halt at a stop line, while the second test consisted of a slalom where the driver had to steer around a row of cones. The goal of the test was to try out the effect of different 5G technologies. The tests last month were done with both 4G and 5G networks, but the new tests will be done with 5G and with a network breakout close to the driving area. Also, we will try out a first version of slicing, with which we expect to be able to give priority to the V2X traffic, making it possible to keep a constant low latency, even in congested network situations. In the future, we also want to make it possible to do a handover between the two 5G networks while the vehicle is connected with the remote driving station. Currently, the roaming functionality for 5G SA Core is still very limited. Near the end of the 5G-MOBIX project we expect that the technology will have progressed enough to also test more advanced roaming features.”

From an MNO point of view, how can we prepare for CCAM?

“We are looking at about five years ahead when making technology choices. Some of the use cases that we are considering within 5G-MOBIX will require extra measures in our network. For instance, if we need to bring down the latency between vehicles and V2X applications in our network below 15ms, we will need edges, and adding them requires changes in network topology and in the core of our 4G and 5G network. These changes would normally only be introduced when upgrading to a newer technology. Still, this is no issue if we start in time, but then there is a question of demand: Who will require this low latency and is willing to pay for it? Currently, no automotive OEM has asked us for such a service, so the question is when this will happen and when we should start investing in this. Last but not least, there are legal challenges: What will happen if our network suddenly stops working while a vehicle is relying on it and crashes because of it? Will the MNO be held responsible? So, to summaries the answer on how to prepare for Connected and Automated Mobility, I believe we should create clear goals, incentivised by actual customers’ demands and solve the legal challenges concerning liability.”