On 25 September 2017, Vodafone, in collaboration with Cisco, Ericsson and a number of auto technology partners, successfully drove a BMW car around a test track in Düsseldorf by remote control, connecting the operations of a remote driver to the car over a cellular network. As we reach the end of the fourth decade since the first commercial cellular network was trialled in 1978, the proof that we can deliver the low latency and high bandwidth networks to make tele-operated vehicles possible is a significant achievement.
The goal of building a tele-operated vehicle system raised a number of challenges for our team. From a network perspective, Vodafone wanted to develop a low latency Mobile Edge Compute platform as part of their 5G readiness initiative. A number of networking innovations went into Vodafone’s MEC platform. Segment routing, which Cisco has pioneered, was one of the key ways of scaling the network with the flexibility to handle very dynamic traffic patterns. We were able to extend segment routing from the IP core through to the mobile backhaul and aggregation domains to achieve the low latency that was required for the car trial. The next step will be to implement SDN-based automation to reduce latency even further by making the network capable of creating the fastest, shortest, secured path for specific applications and services.
5G tests and trials continue at a high pace in our industry. Cisco is playing a very active role helping our customers evolve their network platforms and business operations to be ready to take full advantage of 5G.
Vodafone is setting the pace with challenging use cases, which will accelerate development across every domain from radio access through to the core, devices (not only smartphones but IoT devices), and the APIs and software that enable application and service developers to flourish. At Vodafone’s Innovation Days, Vodafone Germany CEO Dr. Ing. Hannes Ametsreiter said: “It’s best to work together to shape the future, that’s why we’re driving innovation with strong partners. The Innovation Days showcase technologies that will revolutionize road traffic, industry and everyday life.”
This gives an exciting view of a 5G future that can deliver amazing benefits and experiences to both businesses and consumers.