Ericsson to demo 5G remote driving tech that UK seeks to ban

Ericsson to demo 5G remote driving tech that UK seeks to ban

Technology News |
By Nick Flaherty

Ericsson has teamed up with Deutsche Telekon and Vay to demonstrate remote driving technology that a UK report recommends banning.

The demonstration at Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona next week will connect live to an electric car in Berlin using L4S (Low Latency Low Loss Scalable), key technology for high-quality, latency-critical applications. It enables consistent low latency in challenging radio conditions such as network congestion and is part of Ericsson’s Time-Critical Communication capabilities.

A report by the UK’s Law Commission aims to to clarify the current legal status of remote driving and consider possible reforms, including banning the cross-border remote driving in the demonstration. 

The request came from the UK Government’s Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) and the International Vehicle Standards team at the Department for Transport.

The report highlights that the technology already exists and is commonly used in controlled environments such as warehouses, farms and mines. Some consumer vehicles have remote control parking where the driver must be present within a short range.

The advice focuses on remote driving from beyond line-of-sight on public roads. “There is no international consensus about whether this should be allowed, and if so, what standards should apply to it or how it should be defined,” says the report.

Remote driving raises significant safety challenges including the reliability of the connection, although the Ericsson demonstration is intended to address exactly this issue. There are also issues of cybersecurity, although this again is a major focus for remote driving system developers. Then there is the issue of how drivers can maintain situational awareness and remain alert, reducing fatigue, motion sickness and distractions.

“In the advice we conclude the current law is unsatisfactory: remote driving is in a legal grey area. It is neither prohibited nor expressly allowed. This uncertainty makes it harder to put safeguards in place to ensure any remote driving is conducted safely. Conversely it can hinder innovation and worthwhile projects which could benefit society,” says the Commission.

Remote driving technology

The L4S technology in the demonstration supports momentary congestion marking in capacity-limited network cells, hence informing a time-critical application that adaptation of the rate is required to remove congestion situations. L4S is based on an IETF standard and presently in standardization in 3GPP as a work item for release 18.

Ericsson has worked with Vay since October 2022 on implementing and testing L4S and Vay is the first company in Europe to drive a car without a person inside the vehicle on a public road. It aims to launch a sustainable, affordable, door-to-door mobility service with remotely driven cars starting in Germany and the US.

“L4S can bring fundamental improvements to Vay’s teledrive technology. This feature makes it possible to detect network congestion in advance, stabilize latency and avoid packet loss,” said Thomas von der Ohe, co-founder and CEO of Vay.

“The main advantage of L4S is the improvement in utilizing network capacity and therefore keeping quality of data transmission permanently at its best possible level – while decreasing the level of network redundancy. Additionally, by reducing the amount of networks needed per car, we can lower costs while increasing our service area coverage, also in more rural areas. This brings Vay one step closer towards its goal of a sustainable door-to-door mobility service at large scale.”

Kaniz Mahdi, SVP Technology Architecture & Innovation, Deutsche Telekom, says: “Deutsche Telekom continues to drive innovation with partners to evolve our 5G network and unlock its power for human-centric applications. Demonstrating the quality of experience benefits of L4S for Vay’s teledriving technology brings us closer to the era of driverless mobility services at scale. L4S, network slicing, and other advanced features in the 5G toolbox will play a crucial role in enabling new and innovative services for consumers and businesses.”

David Hammarwall, Head of Product Area Networks, Ericsson, says: “Just a few years ago the capabilities highlighted in this teledriving demo with DT and Vay would have been beyond imagination. This innovative use case truly shows the capability of 5G connectivity to remotely operate a vehicle in real time, safely and securely. Such capabilities will dramatically elevate the quality of experience for existing use cases such as cloud gaming, Automated Guided Vehicles, and drones. It will also enable emerging applications such as augmented reality/virtual reality (AR/VR) that service providers can offer to consumers and enterprises.”

Vay’s teledrive-first-approach aims to offer a sustainable and safe service that can be an alternative to existing mobility services. They aim to gradually introduce autonomous driving functions in a system as it is safe and permitted to do so.

Report recommendations

The UK Law Commission recommends that a new statutory licensing scheme for companies deploying remote drivers beyond line-of-sight with two categories: one for remote driving used as an add-on to self-driving (where the company would fall under automated vehicle licensing requirements); and another for ‘independent’ remote driving (such companies would need to get a separate licence as an ‘Entity for Remote Driving Operation (ERDO).

Remote driving from abroad should be banned until appropriate international agreements are in place to provide appropriate enforcement, it says.

Victims of road traffic collisions involving remote drivers should be entitled to no-fault compensation on a similar basis to the insurance provisions for automated vehicles. Responsibility for maintaining safety in areas beyond the remote driver’s knowledge or control should lie with the organisation, not the individual.

“Remote driving is an exciting technology, but before we see remotely operated cars on UK roads, we must address safety concerns through strong regulation,” said Nicholas Paines KC, Public Law Commissioner.

“Our advice concludes that in the immediate term, the Government would be able to address some gaps in the law around remote driving using existing powers, while also providing a path for companies to use the technology lawfully provided that their systems are safe. In the longer term, it could set up a full system of remote driving regulation.”

“Regulations must respond to other fundamental concerns around security threats and liability in the event of an accident. Our advice paper sets out a roadmap for how the Government can address these problems, whilst also encouraging companies to innovate,” he said.

The report is now with the UK government for consideration.;




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