A self-driving car is steadily moving forward in Karaportti, Espoo. The passenger sits casually with the "bones out", or with arms resting on the open windows, even though we are witnessing the first steps of the traffic revolution. The self-driving car is connected to the 5G network, which is one of the pillars of smart traffic for the future.
"We've shown the potential of 5G in many experiments, and autonomous cars are already on the road around the world. When we combine these two, the car and 5G, the massive data transfer from car to control room will lead the way for future traffic," says Janne Koistinen, head of Telia’s 5G programme.
The car was named “Juto” in a Lapland test drive after the Sámi language word for sleigh reindeer. Juto is a self-riding electric car from Sensible 4. The company has developed a world-class automation system for cars, which has been tested and proven in the most challenging driving conditions in Finland.
Safe autonomous traffic is based on diversified technology. "The car collects data from its environment through sensors, radars, laser scanners and cameras. The data is combined with smart software on the car's computer. Based on this, the system draws conclusions from the environment and gives control commands to the car," says Jussi Suomela, Partner at Sensible 4.
Members of the 5G Finland network, Telia, Nokia and Sensible 4 organised a test where a car was connected to a 5G test network and the situational picture conveyed by the car was observable in real time in the Nokia 5G Lab "control room".
5G is needed to manage several cars
A single car moves perfectly autonomously with the environment-reading technology and advanced GPS positioning. The car currently requires a safety person to ensure that everything works – new technology is always tested safety first.
Mobile technology is essential as soon as data is transferred outside the vehicle. As autonomous traffic develops, the traffic operator will remotely monitor several, even dozens of autonomous cars. "A fast, reliable and almost instantaneous 5G connection is critical in order to view the vehicle situation in real time. The amount of data collected by the vehicle is so large that only 5G can forward the data-based situational picture," says Janne Koistinen, head of Telia’s 5G programme.
Sensible 4 is currently testing a self-driving car in Otaniemi, Espoo, near the metro station and Otakaari. In the open pilot, you can jump aboard the car to try what the automatic ride feels like. Another vehicle is tested for more Arctic driving in Muonio.
Text and images: Timo Saxen