WLAN technology preferred for autonomous driving


Relatively unnoticed by the public, the European Commission adopted new rules for the introduction of cooperative transport systems (C-ITS). It also includes recommendations for a WLAN standard for autonomous driving.

Anyone who has followed the discussions and framework conditions for autonomous driving in the past has always come across the new mobile communications standard 5G. It is considered by many to be the communication technology of the future. Fast latency down to less than a millisecond, transmission of large volumes of data and the ability to service multiple applications over the same frequency make the technology attractive for autonomous driving. At the same time, however, a WLAN standard 802.11p under the term C-ITS G5 has been developed exclusively for autonomous driving in recent years and is ready for use.

Until further notice, the European Commission gave priority to this Wi-Fi standard in the act published on March 13, 2019. Commissioner Violeta Bulc said: “Among other things, this decision gives vehicle manufacturers and road operators the long-awaited legal certainty needed to start the deployment of C-ITS services across Europe.” At the same time, she mentioned that the decision was open in relation to new technologies and market developments. This also includes 5G, once it becomes operational.

But that could take a while. Because so far only frequencies in the range 2 GHz and 3.4 to 3.7 GHz are auctioned. If 5G were to be used for autonomous driving, it would have to be on a frequency of 5.9 GHz, just as the WLAN standard is.

Shortly after the publication, there was also criticism. The Association of Mobile Telecommunication Services (GSMA) sees the decision as a risk to undermine 5G and urges the other institutions to reject the regulation.

Basically, nobody can imagine that anymore. The vehicle manufacturers were quite aware of the efforts. This is shown by a position paper of the Swedish industry on autonomous driving, also signed by Scania. Here, the companies pleaded over a year ago in communication among others for the WLAN connection. And also the Association of European vehicle manufacturers spoke out in the position paper “frequency bands for V2X” from November 2018 for the wireless connections in the range of 5.9 GHz in the communication between vehicles (V2V) until further notice because it can be started directly.

This does not mean, however, that vehicle manufacturers no longer give 5G a chance. Quite the opposite: Daimler confirms that the new mobile technology is still in play: “5G plays a crucial role in car-to-x communication, as it allows the exchange of messages between cars and road infrastructure. This makes it possible for the vehicle to recognize dangerous situations such as ice on bridges or a traffic jam end behind a hill earlier and just in time.”

Ralf Johanning

Ralf Johanning studied political science and works as a freelance journalist. For over ten years now he reports on the transportation and logistics industry. The priorities include topics such as telematics, software, and ICT. In 2006 the trained editor, Head, and Press Officer founded the editorial office Alte Schule with his partner Ann-Christin Wimber.

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