Implementation of 5G by Nissan, NTT DOCOMO, and AT&T

Supporting connected cars and autonomous driving - report from TU Automotive Japan 2018



5G Impact (Source: Nissan)

 The TU Automotive Japan 2018 show was held October 16 to 17, 2018. This report covers the lectures related to automotive applications of fifth-generation (5G) mobile communications systems based on announcements by Nissan, NTT DOCOMO, and AT&T.

 5G communications is expected to be 100 times faster than LTE, transmit larger amounts of data, have ultra-low latency, and realize multiple simultaneous connections. These key features will contribute greatly to the realization of connected cars, which various automakers are currently introducing to market. As for autonomous driving, 5G communication will allow for the efficient transmission of 3D maps and probe information to vehicles. Furthermore, through vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communication systems, 5G communication can realize Cooperative Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS), which can receive information in locations where on-board sensors do not have reception.

 The 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) is currently standardizing the specs. Specs for cellular V2X, which can be applied to vehicle-to-vehicle communication (V2V) systems, were decided in March 2017, when six companies( including Nissan), NTT DOCOMO (using vehicles from Toyota and the Nissan GT-R), and AT&T (using Ford vehicles) conducted verification testing for cellular V2X.

 5G is planned to eventually use the wireless format known as New Radio (NR). However, regions such as Japan, the U.S., Europe, and Korea plan to implement NR using existing 4G LTE facilities (known as Non-Standalone: NSA). AT&T will be the first in the world to provide NR services using the NSA format in 12 American cities by the end of 2018.

 NTT DOCOMO will also begin commercial 5G services in 2020. However, it will first be implemented in major urban areas and key regions and facilities, then sequentially gradually expanded to other areas. As with the introduction of all new technologies, it expects to see limited use in the initial stages. Three lecturers did not state when they would begin 5G services for automotive applications.

 Regarding V2X, the system uses dedicated short-range communication (DSRC), has been researched for several years now, and is currently making progress. Toyota, GM, and VW have either already announced realization of the system or adoption of the system in the near future. Honda has conducted a demonstration of safety systems using DSRC in the U.S.

 Additionally, some reports speculate that 5G and DSRC will coexist.


Related reports:
Nissan: Connected strategy in the age of autonomous cars (January 2018)

3GPP formulates 5G specs

 The 3GPP (3rd Generation Partnership Project) is an international project established in 1998. Its purpose is to consider and standardize the specs for mobile communications systems. The project is currently considering the specs for 5G. Release 14 has already been announced, with 15 and 16 scheduled to be released in 2019.

The two directions 5G can develop in
The two directions 5G can develop in (Source: NTT DOCOMO)

Release 14:

  • In March 2017, the 3GPP agreed to specifications for cellular V2X high-speed mobile environments in which devices directly communicate between one another and do not require a base station, such as a V2V communications system. Following this, six automotive groups including Nissan, as well as other groups such as AT&T and Ford conducted cellular V2X test drives in 2018. Vehicle-to-network (V2N) communications use existing 4G LTE networks.

Release 15 and 16:

  • 5G communications is targeted to make use of 5G NR wireless communication, and the specifications were decided in December 2017. The format will be a NSA system that aims for a smooth transition from 4G to 5G by constructing 5G areas within 4G (LTE) areas. Additionally, connection to a 5G cellular network will be made via a 28 GHz band. In response to this, AT&T announced it would launch NSA 5G NR services in 2018.
  • However, because NSA uses existing facilities, and therefore does not meet original 5G standards such as communication speed and low latency, it is a provisional measure. In the future, there are plans to transition to New Radio Access Technology (Standalone: SA).

Nissan: Implementation of Japan’s first cellular V2X trials in partnership with five companies including NTT DOCOMO


  Toshiro Muramatsu, deputy general manager of the Connected Car and Services Engineering Department at Nissan, gave a lecture entitled “How 5G communications is paving the way for a new era of connected cars.”

 Nissan has launched its Nissan Intelligent Mobility (Intelligent Driving/Intelligent Power/Intelligent Integration) initiative, which will see the strengthening of electric vehicles, autonomous driving technology, and connected cars, as well as the expansion of its mobility services.

 These are not independent elements, but rather, connected technologies will play a central role to support the other elements. Connected technology is necessary as a platform to support mobility. Sharing services such as Easy Ride and Nissan e-share mobi will also be supported by connected technology, and its importance will increase in the future. The Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance aims to eventually offer 90% of its new vehicles as connected vehicles.


5G Impact

 The following effects can be expected with the implementation of the fifth generation mobile communication system (5G):

1) Large-capacity communication: Users will have access to software and other entertainment content, online games, as well as the possibility for over-the-air (OTA) updates of probe data. Taking maps used in navigation systems as an example, it currently requires 10 or more minutes to transmit a map of the state of California. With 5G, a map of the entire U.S. can be transmitted in 30 seconds or less.
2) Ultra-low latency direct communication: V2X and V2N will help realize remote monitoring and control, as well as cooperative ITS of fully autonomous driving vehicles. Furthermore, current cloud communications has a transmission latency of 100 ms, and a vehicle driving at a speed of 100 km/h moves 2.78 m. With 5G, latency is reduced to 1 ms, reducing the distance to 2.78 cm (1 ms is 1/1000 of a second).

 Even if 5G communications is realized, V2X can only be realized if the counterpart is equipped with the same system and uses standardized applications. The 5G Automotive Association (5GAA) was established on September 27, 2016 by the three major German automakers Audi, BMW, Daimler, as well as Intel, Ericsson, Huawei, Nokia, and Qualcomm. The purpose of the 5GAA is to cooperate in the development of connected services that utilize the 5G next-generation mobile communications technology. Additionally, the group will conduct communications solutions development and testing, promotion, and standardization support. The group will also pursue possibilities for commercialization, as well as spread its connected services to the global market. The Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance is also one of the participants.

5Gのインパクト 5GAAに参加
5G Impact Participation in the 5GAA (More than 90 companies are currently participating)

Source: Nissan


<Verification test of V2X in Partnership with five companies>

 In January 2018, Nissan announced it would conduct the first verification testing of cellular V2X in Japan in partnership with Continental, Ericsson, NTT DOCOMO, Oki Electric Industry, and Qualcomm.While V2V and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) will utilize direct communication technology (direct communication between devices that does not use a base station) standardized by the 3GPP international standardization organization in its Release 14, Vehicle to Network (V2N) is undergoing tests using LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) networks. Cellular V2X is anticipated to complement in-vehicle sensor technology, and will help increase communication capabilities thanks to its characteristics of having a wider communication range and cloud communications in the area out of sensors’ detection range.

 According to Mr. Muramatsu, these verification tests have been conducted for roughly 10 months, so Nissan expects it will be able to make some kind of announcement in the near future.

セルラーV2X実証実験での6社の分担 実証実験の範囲・関連図
Cellular V2X verification testing is being split between six companies. Scope of demonstration experiments/related chart (RSU = road side unit)

Source: Nissan


Support of autonomous driving through cellular V2X: Important to construct on-board systems for usage

 Autonomous driving requires a vehicle to be capable of driving itself with on-board equipments. However, cooperative ITS is expected to enable a more precise system. When an autonomous driving system checks its vehicle position, it confirms its current location through GPS, and then:

  • Downloads high-resolution maps to confirm its positioning with higher precision
  • Cooperates with traffic signals through V2I communications to confirm signal status for each lane
  • Confirms the positioning of surrounding vehicles and their movements through V2V communications
  • Platooning, where much research has been conducted with trucks, will use V2V communications.

 To fully utilize the capabilities of 5G communications, it is important to have an onboard system, so that is where the company is focusing.

NTT DOCOMO: Complementing situational awareness for autonomous driving using V2X communications

 Hidekazu Fukai, General Manager of the Connected Car Business Office at NTT DOCOMO, Inc., presented a lecture entitled “NTT DOCOMO’s initiatives toward next-generation mobility.


Two directions for 5G

Definition and technology for standardizing 5G
Definition and technology for standardizing 5G (Source: NTT DOCOMO)

 Mr. Fukai explained that 5G technology can develop in two directions. Currently, there is both Enhanced LTE, which is based upon the 4G LTE technology found in modern-day smartphones, and NR Access Technology. The verification tests mentioned in this report use Enhanced LTE.

 Enhanced LTE establishes 5G areas within existing LTE (4G) areas, using a network structure known as Non-Standalone (NSA) to regulate 5G and 4G transmissions from a 4G control channel. Because base station devices can use both 4G and 5G, allowing for an efficient and economic link between the two technologies, Japan, along with many European countries, is aiming to implement 5G via NSA as early as possible.

 However, NSA networks using existing facilities have issues with connection speed and delays that prevent it from meeting original 5G standards. As such, it’s being considered as a temporary stopgap while plans to make the final transition to New Radio Access Technology (known as Standalone: SA) are underway. NR uses a wireless interface different from LTE to realize 5G’s promise of dramatically improved performance. As for Standalone (SA) networks, the general framework was decided upon at Release 15 of the 3GPP implemented in June 2018, with technical performance requirements for all 5G features to be finalized by the end of 2019. Implementation schedule for SA is announced merely for sometime in 2020’s.


Successful verification testing using 5G

 Mr. Fukai introduced the following three V2X experiments that NTT DOCOMO has jointly conducted with many of its partners. NTT DOCOMO has participated in joint cellular V2X trials with five companies including Nissan, and provided LTE networks and V2N applications. NTT DOCOMO also has evaluated the complementary relationship between broadband communications using LTE and direct communications in V2X devices.

<Verification testing utilizing 5G to collect and analyze traffic condition data>

 In September 2017, NTT DOCOMO and Sumitomo Electric Industries conducted verification testing using automobiles equipped with 5G and sensors as well as traffic infrastructure such as roads and buildings to collect and analyze traffic condition data in real time. Sensors were placed at a test course at Sumitomo Electric Industries’ Yokohama Works. DOCOMO’s 5G base station and vehicles equipped with 5G devices were brought to the test course, where testing was conducted.

 More specifically, automobiles and traffic infrastructure equipped with sensors (cameras, LiDAR, millimeter-wave radar) were used to collect and analyze traffic condition data of driving vehicles, pedestrians, and road conditions to assess a wide range of traffic conditions in real time. Based on the traffic condition data collected in this manner, tasks and measures were implemented to improve the immediacy and visibility of traffic situation data to provide advanced driver-assistance and pedestrian protection support.

Successful 5G communications were made using a compact onboard antenna head
Successful 5G communications were made using a compact onboard antenna head (Source: NTT DOCOMO)
<5G verification testing for the realization of connected cars in the Odaiba area>

 In November 2017, NTT DOCOMO collaborated with Toyota, Denso, Ericsson, and Intel to conduct verification testing in the Tokyo Waterfront City district (Odaiba area) using compact onboard antennas, where they successfully tested autonomous driving using a variety of 5G base stations.

 With the cooperation of Ericsson, 5G test base stations were placed in three locations in the Odaiba area, and Intel provided 360-degree, compact onboard antenna heads with a total length of 25 cm, mounted on test vehicles to evaluate 5G communications on public roads. By successfully communicating using a compact, vehicle-mounted antenna head, NTT DOCOMO demonstrated the feasibility of connected cars in conditions similar to an actual 5G commercial environment.

<World’s first 5G wireless communication testing in super high-speed mobile environments of 300 km>

 In April 2018, NTT DOCOMO, NEC and NTT achieved what is believed to be the world’s first 28 GHz wireless data transmission between a 5G base station on the test course and a 5G mobile station mounted on a vehicle (Nissan GT-R) traveling at 305 km in field trials. Furthermore, also a world’s first, the handover between 5G base stations by a 5G mobile station traveling at 290 km to. The field trials were conducted with high-speed travel in mind, such as bullet train applications.

The possibilities of V2X communication via in-vehicle systems to complement autonomous driving

 According to Mr. Fukai, when looking at the status of the development of autonomous driving technology by automakers, he predicts that most aspects of autonomous driving information will be communicated via on-board systems and cloud communications. However, with V2X utilizing 5G communications, it becomes more likely that autonomous driving will become safer and more comfortable.

 While in-vehicle sensors and cameras have a detection range of 100 to 200 meters, V2V, V2I, and V2N can:

1) Cover close areas that cannot be detected using sensors due to obstacles

2) Ascertain the conditions of areas out of the sensor’s detection range

3) Acquire wide-range information needed for smooth navigation and transmit dynamic maps to on-board computers

  Through the above, V2X can contribute to the realization of a more comfortable autonomous driving experience.

AT&T: Emphasizing the importance of Edge Computing

 Manabu Oka, president of AT&T Japan, presented a lecture entitled “The Future of IoT Connectivity.” The sections of his talk related to mobile communications are summarized below.

 According to the research firm Gartner, there are currently 8.4 billion IoT devices connected to the internet worldwide, with that number expected to grow to 80 billion by 2025. AT&T suggested six technologies that will accelerate the growth in the coming years: 5G, AI, blockchain, autonomous, Edge Computing, and IoT for Good. Of those six, he went into detail on 5G and Edge Computing.

2017年には、インターネットにつながる機器が84億台ある 2025年には、800億台に増加すると予想されている
There were 8.4 billion devices connected to the internet in 2017. The number of connected devices is expected to grow to 80 billion by 2025.

Source: AT&T


5G: Undertaking joint test of V2X

 Realizing 5G technology would create speed and quality of communication akin to that of an indoor LAN network. For automotive applications, software OTA (see bottom left chart), along with improvements to high-precision navigation data and course guidance are all expected to benefit.

 AT&T has conducted several joint experiments with a automaker and IT companies related to the implementation of 5G communications (see bottom right chart). In 2017, AT&T conducted DSRC (Dedicated Short Range Communication) verification tests with Ford, Delphi, and the software company Savari using the existing network of AT&T LTE base stations (with enhanced software enabling it to send and receive DSRC data), confirming how the two functions cooperate with each other.

 In 2018, together with Ford, Nokia, and Qualcomm, AT&T is conducting the first cellular V2X verification testing in the U.S. utilizing direct communication technology (direct communication from vehicle-to-vehicle or vehicle-to-infrastructure without using a base station). AT&T’s 4G LTE network will be used for vehicle-to-network (V2N) communication.


The DSRC format ahead for the introduction of V2X

 For many years, Ford has researched the DSRC method, but is believed to have transitioned to cellular method. However, DSRC is likely going to take the lead with the actual implementation to the V2X.

 Toyota has been using V2X communications via DSRC technology in its Crown sold in Japan from 2015. And, from 2021, Toyota/Lexus models sold in the U.S. will feature 5.9 GHz DSRC V2X, with most models featuring the technology by the mid 2020s (announced in April 2018). As the DSRC system does not need to be connected to the network, Toyota believes it will not incur additional communication costs.

 GM has also featured DSRC-based V2V safety features on its Cadillac CTS, and it is believed that the automaker supports using DSRC as a base for future V2X communications. VW announced that, starting in 2019, it would equip DSRC-based V2X as standard on the mass-production models of its major brands, including commercial vehicles. Honda announced its Safe Swarm concept at CES 2017, which utilizes DSRC to increase traffic safety. Additionally, in Marysville, Ohio in October 2018, the automaker conducted a demonstration of its Smart Intersection Technology, a DSRC-based safety system.

 Amid such activity and conditions, it has been reported that DSRC and cellular technology may coexist.

5Gにより実現すると思われる新技術 AT & Tが参画したV2X実証実験
New technology that may be realized via 5G. V2X trials in which AT&T participated

Source: AT&T


Emphasizing the importance of Edge Computing in 5G implementation

  The discussion then turned to Edge Computing. Placing an Edge Server near a terminal side device creates a network for distributed processing. As demands for data processing and transmission continue to increase, even when 5G - which supports large data transmission—is implemented, simply expanding the use of existing terminals and cloud communication will diminish returns in terms of efficiency and storage. By strengthening Edge Computing, overall output can be maximized, and will also contribute to ultra low-latency.

 In August 2017, Toyota, Intel, Ericsson, NTT, NTT DOCOMO, and Denso collaborated to found the Automotive Edge Computing Consortium (AECC), which was then joined by AT&T. In a press release announcing the formation of the consortium, the AECC stated that it would focus on large-volume communication of big data used between automobiles and the cloud, as well as computing power, through the utilization of Edge Computing and more efficient network configuration technologies. The consortium will also promote the research of more efficient distributed and hierarchical computing. The consortium believes that the advancement of the technology will change the way of Edge Computing.

 Regarding Edge Computing of vehicles, Mr. Oka claims that a vehicle requires a standard on-board system for safe and comfortable driving, particularly in autonomous driving vehicles. However, when V2X and smart cities become more developed and vehicles and urban infrastructures (parking lots and surveillance cameras) interact with each other, it is predicted that that data will be processed by Edge Servers at various base stations.


NR mobile 5G services to begin in 12 U.S. cities in 2018

 In September 2018, AT&T announced that, in partnership with Ericsson, Nokia, and Samsung, it is launching the world’s first mobile 5G service based on 3GPP’s Release 15, utilizing 5G New Radio, in 12 U.S. cities. AT&T will expand the service to 19 cities in the beginning of 2019.

Fifth-generation mobile communication system, 5G, Nissan, NTT DOCOMO, AT&T, Cellular V2X, V2N, DSRC, New Radio, Edge Computing

<Automobile Industry Portal MarkLines>