Honda and Verizon are cooperating on ways to use the carrier’s 5G Ultra Wideband and 5G Mobile Edge Compute (MEC) platforms to enhance road safety by speeding communications between road infrastructure, vehicles and pedestrians. The research is being conducted at the University of Michigan’s Mcity test bed for connected and autonomous vehicles.
The idea is to use low-latency, high capacity communications infrastructure to link drivers, emergency and other vehicles, traffic signals and pedestrians to improve threat detection and avoid accidents.
The research involves Honda Safe Swarm, a Cellular Vehicle-to-Everything (C-V2X) communication system the car maker has been developing since 2017. The technology enables a vehicle to share location, speed, vehicle sensor data and other information with other vehicles. Currently, Safe Swarm requires vehicles to have onboard artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities. The goal is to use 5G Ultra Wideband capabilities to move the AI requirements from the vehicle to MEC.
A press release provides three scenarios in which 5G Ultra Wideband, MEC and C-V2X can enhance safety. They are alerting drivers of pedestrians hidden by obstacles, approaching emergency vehicles and vehicles that are running red lights.
“The ability to move computing power to the edge of our 5G network is an essential building block for autonomous and connected vehicles, helping cars to communicate with each other in near real-time and with sensors and cameras installed on streets and traffic lights,” said Sanyogita Shamsunder, Verizon’s Vice President of Technology Development and 5G Labs, in a press release about the Verizon Honda partnership. “When you consider that roughly 42,000 people were killed in car accidents last year and 94% of accidents are caused by human error, our new technologies including 5G and MEC can help drivers ‘see’ things before the human eye can register and react, helping to prevent collisions and save lives.”
Verizon has mentioned vehicular safety previously in its assessments of possible uses of its 5G and MEC technology. In November 2020 – when the carrier was announcing MEC deployments in Dallas and Miami – Verizon said that it is exploring intelligent indexing and filtering of vehicle data in near real time from Renovo, warnings to drivers and pedestrians from Savari and information sharing between vehicles, mobile devices and transportation infrastructure from LG. The latter seems to closely match the research with Honda at Mcity.
Verizon MEC now is available in Denver, Seattle, Boston, the San Francisco Bay area, Atlanta, Dallas, Las Vegas, Miami, New York City and Washington, DC.