Connectivity is the future of mobility, but not just for the sake of linking cars together. New, highly specific features are going to require them to talk to each other, the infrastructure, and a host of devices and service providers. One of the key drivers is teleoperation. Once a footnote in the world of autonomous car development, teleoperation has become a hot topic at auto industry events. It’s one of the most commonly discussed features of mobility at a time when autonomous vehicle developers are searching for new ways to maintain their ambitious release dates.
“If you want to have an unmanned vehicle but you want a remote pilot, then you need to have a reliable link to the network,” said Jason Ellis, director of business development at Qualcomm Technologies. “In addition, there’s a discussion about how much compute you need in the car and how much compute you may have in the cloud. And that discussion has caused automakers to talk to operators about a concept called ‘network slicing,’ which is guaranteeing a certain quality of service for that compute.”
The other piece of the puzzle is an old standby: V2V and V2I. Ellis said that both will be necessary for traffic safety, efficiency and sensor sharing. Even vehicle intent is expected to be an important feature shared with other cars. “There was another technology, much older now, DSRC, based on 802.11p,” said Ellis. “Its roots are tied to 802.11a, a Wi-Fi technology that was standardized in 1999. Wi-Fi continued to evolve but this DSRC technology didn’t benefit from any of that evolution. So the cellular industry came up with a technology known as CV2X (Cellular Vehicle-to-Everything) direct communication.”
CV2X could allow automakers to achieve their safety and traffic efficiency goals, but that’s just the beginning. “As the technology continues to evolve, it will also enable sensor sharing, HD map sharing, so much higher data rates,” said Ellis. “It will allow low latencies and then ultimately the ability to communicate directly with a pedestrian phone.” A car may not be interested in actually calling pedestrians, but it will need to know where they are to ensure everyone is safe.
“The car is interested in the pedestrians that it anticipates (based on an algorithm) it could collide with,” Ellis explained. “Or pedestrians behind an obstruction that it doesn’t know are about to walk in front of it. Or a pedestrian that’s listening to headphones that can’t hear [the vehicle]. The purpose would be to help the driver not hit the pedestrian and certainly reduce the number of fatalities and incidents involving pedestrians with different types of vehicles.”
Clearly the network is important, but Ellis has yet to speak with an OEM that is willing to build autonomous vehicles on network connectivity alone. “That means there is innately intelligence on board,” he added. “And if the vehicle gets into trouble, it needs to be able to take care of itself – slow down, pull over. Now where teleoperation can assist, and maybe that’s a better way to look at it – how it assists. Once the vehicle starts to recognize that it’s entering a scenario where it’s going to have trouble, that’s when it’s time to light up all the sensors. Send all that information back to the networks so someone can remotely give guidance on what to do.”
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Louis Bedigian is an experienced journalist and contributor to various automotive trade publications. He is a dynamic writer, editor and communications specialist with expertise in the areas of journalism, promotional copy, PR, research and social networking.