An experimental 5G testbed, an advanced self-driving test vehicle and multiple mobile router solutions: this is what characterises the Finland pre-deployment trial site of the EU project 5G-MOBIX, coordinated by ERTICO. Aalto University manages the pre-deployment site and its activities and is also in charge of the project technical specifications.

This interview is part of the “5G Talks” series of the 5G-MOBIX project. Each article focuses on a specific aspect of the project. This new episode takes us up north, where 5G enabling automated driving is tested in open roads with mixed traffic and under challenging Nordic winter conditions.

Who is Aalto University?

“Aalto University (Aalto-korkeakoulusäätiö) is a Finnish university specialised in science and technology, business, arts, design and architecture. The 5G-MOBIX project is being carried out at the Department of Communications and Networking, which is a multidisciplinary unit of fundamental and applied experimental research and higher education covering communications engineering, radio systems, future Internet, teletraffic and information theories, as well as economics and user aspects of the technology and services.”

Figure 1. Partial view of the 2 km test route at the Otaniemi campus. Photo by Aalto University.

What makes the Finland trial site unique for the testing of 5G?

“Besides the 5G aspects, our local partner Sensible 4 brings to the Finland trial site a self-driving test vehicle, called “AVA”, which is capable of advanced automated driving maneuvers. Remarkably, the test vehicle is road legal in Finland and it can run with mixed traffic.

Figure 2. The self-driving test vehicle running in open roads with mixed traffic under challenging Nordic winter conditions, Otaniemi, ­February 2021. Photo by Sensible4.

Our test vehicle is equipped with a 5G Onboard Unit (OBU) based on a mobile multi-channel router Goodmill w24h-S, which is equipped with multiple Sierra EM9191 modems. This router operates in Non-Standalone (NSA) mode and it will be upgraded to Standalone (SA) later in 2021. The router supports seamless transfer of vehicle-to-network connections from one 5G network to another (up to four networks) and it will support link aggregation (i.e., dual connectivity), also in 2021. In addition, we have developed our own customised 5G single-SIM OBU solution based on Quectel RM500Q modems operating in both NSA and SA modes. We also plan to test other commercial multi-SIM solutions from various vendors. We acknowledge the kind support of the HIIT – Helsinki Institute for Information Technology in the acquisition of the Goodmill router.

Figure 3. The 5G mobile multi-channel router Goodmill w24h-S. Photo by Goodmill.

Tell us about your 5G testbed

“The experimental testbed of the Finland trial site is brought by the national project 5G-FORCE. This project develops and evaluates cutting-edge 5G technologies on radio, networking, machine learning and security to facilitate experiments targeting at various verticals. The project is led by Aalto University in cooperation with local telecom operators and vendors, SMEs, research and academic institutions, and the frequency and road regulator of Finland. Remarkably, Aalto University holds Public Land Mobile Network (PLMN) identifiers (PLMN-IDs) to instantiate up to ten PLMNs in the Otaniemi campus area, of which two will be used in 5G-MOBIX, operating in both NSA and SA modes. One of these PLMNs has its 5G core (5GC) deployed locally, while the other one has some network functions deployed remotely in an external cloud at 1500 km away. In addition, two local telecom operators have 5G coverage in our campus area, both in NSA mode. Overall, our testbed will allow us to evaluate new 5G features such as multi-PLMN operation, edge migration, and national roaming, which are challenging to deploy and test in the commercial networks deployed at the cross-border corridors.”

What are your next steps in the project?

“We have completed most of our developments, run multiple drive tests on the testbed, scanned the routes for the test vehicle and we are now finalising the integration and testing work. On 11 and 12 of February 2021, we executed our first round of pre-trials in the Otaniemi campus of Aalto University, with our testbed in NSA mode. The pre-trials consisted of multiple automated driving rounds of around 10 minutes each, in a route of 2 km. All rounds were in open roads, with real-world mixed vehicular traffic (e.g., service trucks, public buses, pedestrians), and under the challenging Nordic winter conditions (-18 degrees Celsius reported on those mornings!). We tested 5G enabling advanced automated driving (e.g., collision avoidance, lane merging and remote driving) and some of our developed applications for CCAM (cooperative, connected and automated mobility).

Our next steps are to keep running trials along 2021, but with our testbed in SA mode. The future work includes the transfer, integration and evaluation of some of our developed solutions in two 5G cross-border corridors, one between Spain and Portugal, and the other one between Greece and Turkey.”

Further information:

Dr. Giancarlo Pastor,
Dr. Edward Mutafungwa,