PIX is applying 5G on its Self-driving Vehicles

5G is a hot topic in recent months and 5G bases are thriving everywhere around the globe. “Proponents of 5G say it will offer ultra-fast connections, speedier data downloads, and be able to handle millions more connections than 4G mobile networks can cope with today.” according to one article from BBC News by Mary-Ann Busson. Indeed, 5G will bring new possibilities in various fields from robotics, smart infrastructure to autonomous driving and more. “5G stands out as a real game-changer” Jon Markman said in his post on Forbes magazine.

Picture originates from Intel Newsroom

With the coming wide application of 5G, many new industries will emerge and be developed based on the 5G network technology, which can also pave the way for self-driving cars, AKA autonomous driving. Self-driving cars combine a variety of sensors, LiDARs, and radars to perceive the surroundings and generate optimized paths, achieving obstacle avoidance and car following etc.. Powerful computing and processing are essential to achieve working L4 autonomous driving. Besides that, V2X and V2V are promising trends in the self-driving industry, just like how mobile phones change our lifestyle nowadays.

Remote control of autonomous vehicles is one of the representative use cases of 5G. Delay is a very sensitive and crucial factor in autonomous driving. Even one millisecond delay may result in a catastrophic accident when the autonomous vehicle is driving at high speed. With the fifth generation of cellular mobile communications (5G), the self-driving vehicle can exchange high-speed data with the remote end. The vehicle’s information will be sent to the server through 5G, and meanwhile the operator can perceive the current status of the self-driving vehicle through the network in real time. On November 9th, 2018, PIX officially began its trial application of 5G network on PIX self-driving vehicles.

PIX Modular Autonomous Moving Spaces

Reimagining autonomous driving from the city innovation perspective, PIX believes that autonomous mobility will reshape the cities. Humans and goods are not the only ones that need mobility. Life, work and entertainment will be on robo-vehicles (imagine that you don’t need your hands and feet on the steering and pedal, you can work out on the way, have meeting on the self-driving car), making spaces will become sharable, on-demand and connected. 5G will make PIX robo-vehicles much smoother and more efficient. LTE-V of 4G can support partial autonomous driving yet 5G embraces fully-autonomous driving. The information dissemination in the 5G age will be intelligent and interconnected, allowing the interaction between vehicles, vehicle to human, vehicle to object and buildings. The intelligence in city infrastructure empowers PIX autonomous moving spaces loaded with different services to interact with these city facilities such as traffic lights and transportation systems etc, thus reshaping a different mobility system and city landscape in the future.

Currently PIX is using 5G to run the vehicle remote driving system. The Vehicle Remote Driving System consists of three modules: remote management system, remote driving system, audio and video monitoring system. The remote management system can perform status display and simultaneous management of several autonomous driving vehicles; The remote driving system can switch between autonomous and manual driving modes on the target vehicle, whose direction, throttle and braking can be controlled remotely by connecting to the central control system when it’s in manual mode. Data like localization, direction angel and speed can be collected and monitored through the system as well; The audio and video monitoring system provides views from five angels: the vehicle’s front, rear, left, right and in-vehicle steering wheel views.

The self-driving system and cameras of five views are connected directly to the central control via 5G network. The remote driving system includes equipment such as electronic control kit (one), audio and video transmission and processing computer (one), surveillance cameras (five), remote driving control computer (one), remote control device (one), and self-driving vehicle (one).

The schematic diagram of system deployment and remote operation is as follows:

The target self-driving vehicle is equipped with a set of mobile devices dedicated to accessing 5G networks. The receiving end provides options of wired network and wireless network, through which the vehicle control device connects to the 5G mobile terminal. Real-time data communication is realized by connecting the mobile terminal to the Internet.

Remote driving works like this: the data of target self-driving vehicle is uploaded to the server in real time through the mobile data network and the operator monitors the vehicle through the server, and then transmits the control command to achieve remote driving control. Certain type of data are transmitted during the whole process:

1. Video stream packages from 5 HD cameras (so that the operator is able to observe what’s going on on the road, including views of vehicle front, rear, left and right, and in-vehicle status);
2. Control commands sent by the operator;
3. Status commands uploaded by the self-driving vehicle (including: current speed, current steering value, obstacle position, localization and navigation information, etc.).

Through the exchange of these data, we can go beyond the limitation of location and space to realize remote control on the target vehicle when it accesses Internet through the high-speed network.

Remote Driving Control Demo

As one of the assisting functions of PIX self-driving vehicles, remote driving also solves the problems of autonomous driving monitoring and emergency control, as well as functioning as a solution for operation and control of special autonomous vehicles in hazardous environments. Remote driving control is the combined direction of connected cars and self-driving technologies. Remote driving vehicles can realize V2V through 5G-based vehicle networking technology, enabling convenient management of remote control on batches of vehicles. When multiple vehicles are interconnected by a high-speed mobile data network, PIX can conduct remote multi-vehicle scheduling and cluster control & operation, thus forming an autonomous vehicles fleet that are not physically connected.

Next step, PIX and the partners will optimize the download peak rate so that drivers can simulate the physical driving experience in the indoor environment from the high-definition 5G video generated, from which operators will fully and clearly observe the surroundings of the test vehicle.

Self-driving vehicle test in industrial park

The 5G-based remote autonomous driving aims to realize real-time management and monitoring of autonomous vehicles through the fifth generation of cellular mobile communications, marking a bold attempt to develop cluster control over connected and autonomous driving vehicles.

With the continuous improvement of mobile network speed and the gradually-matured autonomous driving technology, there will be more brilliant remote driving control functions being developed. PIX is committed to contribute its efforts on this journey. This is just a peep into the potentials of 5G and more is waiting.