Wednesday, 07 February 2018 11:08

NEC progresses on network control tech for self-driving vehicles

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Japanese IT services giant NEC says it has developed adaptive network control technology that allows automobiles to share information about their surroundings in real-time.

NEC announced that the technology allows sharing of information even in unstable communication environments featuring numerous vehicles and communication terminals.

The company says that in recent years, expectations have been growing for the introduction of self-driving automobiles, automated guided vehicles at factories and drones for deliveries.

However in order to avoid collisions and ensure the safety of self-driving vehicles, it is necessary for vehicles to share information about their surroundings in real-time through mobile networks, NEC notes.

Yuichi Nakamura, general manager, NEC System Platform Research Laboratories, says that in terms of self-driving automobiles, guidelines established by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project require that at least 95% of communications reach their destination within 100 milliseconds.

“In a mobile network, however, as the number of communication terminals that are connected to a radio base station increases, the communication delay for each terminal also increases. Moreover, communication delays may differ from terminal to terminal and may fluctuate every second. As a result, it has been nearly impossible to consistently reduce communications delays to below 100 milliseconds while in busy areas, such as major intersections,” NEC says.

In response to this, NEC announced today that it has developed an adaptive network control technology for controlling networks that prioritises certain urgent communication terminals based on their communications flow, then immediately assigns bandwidth and communication time (radio resources) to these terminals, rather than their less urgent counterparts.

“This technology has been tested in a simulated traffic environment where 100 automobiles and 100 pedestrians were using a variety of communication terminals, such as smartphones, while connected to an LTE radio base station. This testing verified that an automobile's communication delay could be shortened to 100 milliseconds or less and the rate of successful communication could reach 95%,” says NEC.

"We will continue our efforts to verify and commercialise this technology as we aim to see it applied to social systems in many different areas, such as self-driving automobiles, AGVs at factories, and drones for deliveries," said Nakamura.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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