At Mobile World Congress 2016, Ericsson and Scania announced joint research efforts to accelerate the connectivity of commercial vehicles and infrastructure. Ericsson and Scania are convinced that advances in communications technologies and future deployments of 5G networks will enable improvements in the transport of people and cargo.
"We've been speaking about introducing vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications for quite some time but now it's really taking off," said Håkan Schildt, Director of Strategy and Business Development at Scania's Connected Services and Solutions. "We now see greater prospects for reliable communications through mobile networks."
New developments in LTE and 5G standardisation have created opportunities for dedicated vehicle-to-vehicle communications using the mobile network while minimising risks of unpredictability and latency. One of the differences compared with previous mobile standards is the industry working in partnership with other verticals to develop and trial the use case 5G is intended to support.
Scania has pioneered platooning concepts with truck and trailer combinations driving in close formation, thereby reducing air drag and fuel consumption. Legislation at present permits trucks to drive at a safe distance from each other using common in-vehicle features such as radar and cruise control.
However, an even narrower distance between trucks - further reducing fuel consumption - requires vehicle-to-vehicle communications and interconnected control systems. Research by Ericsson and Scania has now shown that sufficiently reliable communications can be established using 4G, and in future 5G, networks.
In a wider perspective, vehicle-to-infrastructure communications is an enabler for system-wide platooning in planning and organising the formation and dissolution of platoons according to route and schedule. Trucks can thus join and leave platoons in an optimal manner.
"In view of the enormous benefits, we're convinced that vehicle-to-vehicle communications will be implemented by transport operators of all types," said Claes Herlitz, Head of Automotive at Ericsson.
"Addressing the challenges posed by growing passenger and freight volumes, enhanced communications can contribute to greater logistics efficiency and thereby reduced environmental impact."