The i2CAT Foundation and CTTC performed a small-scale trial site in Barcelona to validate 5G technologies enabling Cooperative Connected and Automatized Mobility (CCAM) services


i2CAT Foundation and CTTC participate in many projects related to CCAM and jointly in some of them, as is the case of 5GCroCo and FEM-IoT. 5GCroCo aims at validating advanced 5G features in cross-border scenarios to enable innovative use cases for CCAM, which allowed the deployment of a trial site in Barcelona, operated by i2CAT’s Neutral Host platform connected to CTTC’s emulated cross-border Internet Exchange Point (IXP). FEM-IoT has permitted the development of algorithms, mechanisms, and optimized solutions for the hybridization of localization technologies (concretely, UWB, and inertial systems) to improve positioning, validated within the framework of the 5GCroCo project, where i2CAT leads a task about Precise Positioning.

The H2020 5GCroCo project, coordinated by CTTC, aims to define a successful path towards providing CCAM services in cross-border scenarios to support seamless service delivery in a multi-operator, multi-vendor, multi-telecommunications provider, and multi-car manufacturer scenario. The project has demonstrated the benefits of 5G technologies (e.g., New Radio, MEC-enabled distributed computing, Predictive QoS, Network Slicing, and improved positioning systems) to enhance CCAM services, validating them in small and large-scale trials. The small-scale trial site deployed in Barcelona represented an Anticipated Cooperative Collision Avoidance (ACCA) cross-border deployment, which relates to anticipating certain potentially critical events, reducing the probability of collisions in situations when typical sensors will have no visibility or a short detection range.

For this trial site, a real-world infrastructure deployed in two different geographical places was used: an IXP platform allocated in CTTC premises (Castelldefels) and a 5G Neutral Hosting platform deployed in the 22@ district in Barcelona, with a 25 km distance between both sites. Both sites were communicated by a dedicated Ethernet and optical transport network. The Barcelona 5G neutral hosting platform was deployed and demonstrated within the scope of 5GCity, a H2020 project coordinated by i2CAT and with the participation of the Barcelona City Council. This platform can deploy multiple virtual mobile network operators (vMNO) in a shared RAN and MEC infrastructure, emulating a typical cross-border scenario where vehicles are connected to different vMNOs.

The vehicles used in the Barcelona small-scale trial were equipped with an On-Board-Unit (OBU), developed by CTTC, which can be used as a communications control unit in any vehicle or vehicle emulator. Each vMNO provides cellular connectivity to vehicles through lampposts equipped with small cells and MEC services deployed in a street cabinet, which host the edge part of ACCA backend software and the virtualized EPC (vEPC) for each vMNO. The main task of the ACCA service is to gather awareness, perception, and sensor information from vehicles and other IoT devices, consolidate them and evaluate potential hazards. The cross-border nature of the Barcelona pilot required service orchestration procedures that allow instantiating and operating end-to-end services across a multi-operator environment, and the 5GCroCo Cross-border service orchestration platform performs it. Figure X shows the infrastructure of the Barcelona trial site, where several ACCA trials have been successfully conducted during the project, demonstrating the benefits of the neutral host approach. The Barcelona trials involved the participation of different 5GCroCo partners, namely i2CAT, CTTC, Nextworks, Orange France, EURECOM, World Sensing, and Mobile World Capital Barcelona, and the support of the Barcelona’s Institut Municipal d’Informàtica, which is part of the project’s external advisory board.

In parallel to the neutral host demonstrations, the same infrastructure hosted the precise positioning experiments within the scope of 5GCroCo and FEM-IoT.  The selected scenario was a real urban scenario with an intersection of two streets. The tracking of the vehicle was done with several anchors installed to city lampposts through all the route that the vehicle performs (150 m).

The precise positioning solution deployed by i2CAT is a low-cost prototype that integrates multiple localization technologies and is composed of the following main elements:

  • A computing board based on Linux supporting WiFi and Ethernet communications
  • A GPS-RTK module
  • An Ultra-Wide Band (UWB) module
  • An Inertial Navigation System (INS) module

In the trial, the system was installed in a vehicle driving at an average speed of 20km/h, and it was used to evaluate the performance of GPS-RTK and UWB-based solutions. The trial allowed to study, implement and validate optimization strategies for improving the scalability of the infrastructure (minimizing the number of anchors), the accuracy of the results, and the tracking capability of the system.   leading to the following conclusions

The results show the feasibility of using GPS-RTK and UWB-based approaches for accurate positioning in areas where GPS-RTK cm-accuracy is unreliable or impossible or in places where driving safety needs reinforcement. For example, in urban/suburban scenarios, low satellite visibility or multipath situations can happen due to narrow streets and high buildings, affecting the performance of GPS-based solutions. Also, achieving cm-level precision in tunnels would be challenging with conventional systems. In these cases, the results obtained with UWB demonstrate that it is an exciting alternative for precise positioning comparable to the performance achieved by cm-level GPS-RTK solutions.

The implemented hybrid UWB/INS solution has also demonstrated enhancing the positioning rate in front of stand-alone UWB solutions to reach 10 Hz, which can be combined with a higher frequency of CAM messages to enhance the performance of CCAM services such as ACCA. In conclusion, hybrid UWB/INS solutions would permit building a better representation of the path followed by the vehicle.

The positioning enhancements have been implemented at the vehicle side and integrated with the OBU, developed by CTTC, which sends the ETSI-ITS encoded messages to feed the ACCA services. The solution was successfully validated for a use case with a stationary vehicle sending Hazard Reports and a moving vehicle receiving Hazard Notifications. The position of the stationary vehicle and the path followed by the moving vehicle (with lane precision tracking) could be followed in the Human Machine Interface (HMI) deployed by Orange.

UWB technology is being pushed into the automotive sector and is already present in some smartphone devices. Thus, the precise positioning developed solution serves as a proof-of-concept of a driver-assistance system for collision avoidance use cases, which could be easily integrated into the future connected vehicles. UWB-enabled vehicles and smartphones will help relax current infrastructure requirements for precise positioning and allow to easily incorporate pedestrians and Vulnerable Road Users (VRUs) as actors/consumers of enhanced vehicular services/applications.

This work has been supported by the EC under grant agreement No. 825050 (5GCroCo) and by the European Union Regional Development Fund within the framework of the ERDF Operational Program of Catalonia 2014-2020 through project Fem IoT.