PRESS RELEASE: Urban transportation is vital for society, just like the arteries of the human body keeping the city running. A robust transportation service system can make all the difference in a city’s success.

However, with rapid urban sprawl, city roads are experiencing unprecedented congestion, traffic accidents keep increasing because of fatigue driving and other human errors, city dwellers are at high risk with the resulting air pollution. As expectations for safer, faster and smarter commuting and travelling, the digital transformation of transportation and autonomous driving is a trend, both for government’s utility management and for the smarter driving of vehicles.

The challenges of traditional transformation approach for smart transportation

Traditional single-vehicle autonomous driving currently still has difficulty in solving the complexity of long-tail scenarios, sensor perception blind spots, and ineffective vehicle-road collaboration. Only by intelligently connecting transportation elements such as vehicles and roads, can we meet the challenges of complex and diversified traffic scenarios. Therefore, vehicle-road collaboration is an inevitable trend for the large-scale deployment of autonomous driving. However, traditional communication systems that link people, vehicles and roads like DSRC and PC5-V2X are facing problems such as low transmission reliability, small transmission bandwidth and high deployment cost, difficult to achieve large-scale adoption and application. Data processing ability is also significant for an intelligent transportation system, while traditional computing center are either too centralized or far away from the data transmission center, making data computing rather lagging, expensive and inflexible. As the latest generation of communication technology, 5G is the best choice to meet the high requirements for vehicle-road collaboration.

Industry’s first 5G-based vehicle-road-cloud integrated transportation system

Suzhou, a vibrant Chinese city with over 5 million vehicles, is leading the way in establishing a smart transportation city. In 2023, China Telecom and ZTE Corporation, is creating the industry’s first 5G-based vehicle-road-cloud integrated V2X network, empowering autonomous driving and enhancing traffic intelligence. The network perceives and collects real-time traffic statistics and delivering services to drivers, automobile companies and the government. It provides timely driver assistance services on the vast open urban road, as well as diversified autonomous driving services in specific road area.

The system is highlighted by the utilization of existing 5G networks, rather than traditional expensive method to build a brand new V2X communication system. First of all, 5G as the vehicle-road communication network has many advantages compared with the conventional DSRC system, which has problems concerning future evolution and commercialization capability, same as the PC5-V2X which has only 20 MHz bandwidth. Without mentioning 5G’s inherent large bandwidth and existing massive penetration and coverage, base station resources can also be reused, reducing deployment costs by 24%. ZTE vehicle-mounted 5G dual-module gateway, based on a virtual dual-band private network, enables data dual-transmission and selective-reception. It reduces network latency by 60% to 20ms with 99.99% reliability and supports up to 60Km/h autonomous driving on urban open roads.

On road side, Lidars, high-definition cameras, and other sensors are equipped on the traffic light stand for high-precision road perception with no blind spots or dead ends. Real-time, beyond-line-of-sight traffic information is therefore transmitted through 5G networks to drivers and vehicles, more accurate and instant than navigation APPs.

In the meantime, the industry’s first real-time intelligent and connected vehicles cloud control platform is introduced in the system. The platform monitors vehicle and roadside equipment conditions, analyzes traffic statistics, and serves as a sensory data source. With this platform, autonomous vehicles gain a more comprehensive understanding of road conditions, while government gains a valuable tool to enhance overall traffic management efficiency, including intelligent monitoring and commanding, traffic backtracking, collaborative decision-making, and green wave traffic adjustments. This ultimately improves road safety and reduces urban congestion.

In traditional ways, data is transmitted through one node but processed and computed at the other places like central cloud or regional computing room, which prolongs transmission delay and increases investment, ZTE innovatively integrates 5G network and computing capability together by simply inserting a computing board, NodeEngine, into 5G base stations. Multiple base stations are connected to empower the edge-cloud control platform in delivering the most time-sensitive services, which minimizes transmission latency and saves half of the deployment time.

Enhanced experiences for differentiated users

Ubiquitous driver assistance information services can be conveniently provided via APP to mobile phones and vehicles, such as best route selection, and congestion avoidance, making commuting more comfortable. Real-time emergency warning information can also be provided to pedestrians through smart watches and bluetooth headsets. Moreover, the more vehicles and terminals connected into this system, the better coordination results would be, the number of traffic accidents and the amount of vehicle emissions will be reduced, which is beneficial to pedestrians and residents alike. In addition, the ever-emerging autonomous driving applications like unmanned delivery can significantly change the life of citizens and bring about a more digital life.

For automobile companies and autonomous driving enterprises, the cloud control platform is a massive data source that can provide sensory data for autonomous driving companies to facilitate better vehicle perception, prediction and planning. It is estimated that if every crossroads in Suzhou is connected to the platform, the system will generate 198PB of data per day, equivalent to the daily amount of data collected by 290,000 autonomous vehicles using on-board sensors. Automobile companies can also purchase these data to develop and deliver their own driver assistance services, enhancing their core competitiveness.

For government transportation department, efficiency of traffic management can be improved by fast and precise positioning of accident location through the cloud control platform. Traffic accident liabilities will be identified much quicker without having police coming to the scene. Optimized traffic signals together with real-time adjustments of green wave speed instruction can also greatly minimizes lane changing, smoothes traffic flows and reduces traffic emissions.  Additionally, ambulances or fire trucks can be prioritized to ensure the safety of the residents.

Large-scale deployment of 5G+ vehicle-road-cloud integration in Suzhou

To date, a 162-kilometer road network with 5G+vehicle-road-cloud integration has been commercialized in Suzhou, with an additional 1,000 kilometers of roads scheduled for construction by 2025. This represents the industry’s only 5G-based road network capable of offering L4 autonomous driving services for L2 vehicles. For example, Tianyijiaotong Technology Ltd. has launched 3 Robobus lines in commercialization on the 5G+ vehicle-road-cloud integration area. The self-driving bus is empowered and operated with real-time roadside perception data and is remotely monitored by the cloud control platform. When passengers get on the bus, they will notice that there is no bus driver but just a safety supervisor, who doesn’t need to hold the steering wheel, but just watching and waiting to take over at emergencies. There are also more than 1,000 self-driving vehicles of over 20 automobile companies connected to the cloud control system for real time supervision, both in the technology park and on the intelligent road, including RoboBus, RoboTaxi, unmanned delivery, sweeper, patrol, sightseeing bus, truck, and retail cart.

The 5G+vehicle-road-cloud integration system, which can consistently enhance the overall public travel experience, is highly adaptable and can be further expand to more cities. It will require only a single base station modification, and all base stations of 16 crossroads within 1 km2 will have the capability of V2X services. Till now, China’s 5G base stations have exceeded 3.1 million, which represents that 5G coverage has reached almost all cities, laying foundation for the future rollout and large-scale commercialization of this system.