December 3, 2021
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International communications firm Ericsson recently wrapped up a pilot test of its remote digital monitoring self-driving 5G bus project in Stockholm Sweden; a system the company said is now ready for broader global testing.

[Above photo by Ericsson]

The “Connected Control Tower” concept Ericsson and its project partners are testing uses a 5G connection and digital safety features to monitor and manage fleets of self-driving vehicles on public roads, as well as enhance the safety and security of passengers onboard.

The project’s goal is to support efficient and sustainable public transport where operators in the control tower can manage fleets of autonomous, electric vehicles to improve traffic planning and route optimization.

This will lead to a more cost-effective and environmentally smart transport system, explained Marcus Gårdman, Ericsson’s lead design technologist for the project, in a statement.

“The 5G network’s unique technical features, including extremely high data speeds combined with low latency, means that the connected buses can respond in real time to commands from the centralized control tower,” he said. “This delivers a critical and powerful foundation for the safe and secure remote-control of vehicles and is an important step to manage buses and public transport in a smart and sustainable way.”

Ericsson began working on this particular 5G self-driving bus test with Urban ICT Arena, T-Engineering, and Teliain September 2020 along a temporary route managed by bus operator Keolis on the island of Djurgården, Stockholm.

Integration between the control tower and the bus has been the focus of this pilot test, Ericsson said. The vehicle connects to the control tower through a high-performance 5G network, enabling real-time communication between both the self-driving bus and the central control tower – allowing operators in the control tower to remotely command and even control the vehicle if necessary.

“On today’s buses, you can turn to the driver for help. It is a security for the passengers, especially for older person, that you feel welcome and taken care of,” noted Jan Jansson, mobility services developer at Keolis. “With the help of new technology, we can create the same experience on self-driving buses. It can be about quickly getting in touch with the operators in the control tower via simple digital interfaces on the buses.”

editor@aashto.org

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