Tallinn University of Technology

Self-driving vehicles are already a reality today, but they still need human operators. TalTech, Telia and the German company PYLOT are the first in the world to test cross-border remote control of an autonomous vehicle by using 5G technology.

The development of self-driving vehicles helps create a future where we can redesign our living environment, organize safer, more efficient and more environmentally friendly transport, and find new business models that usher in the era of smart economy.

However, this does not mean that there will be no place for humans in transport in the future. Even in case of the most advanced technology there are situations in traffic that require a sense of responsibility and power of judgement that machines cannot provide.

The project manager of TalTech's self-diving vehicles Raivo Sell said that this is the reason why TalTech, Telia and PYLOT will be testing a solution that enables cross-border remote control by using 5G technology.  "For example, if the self-driving vehicle Iseauto gets caught in a situation that requires human intervention, the operator at the Munich remote control centre can take over control virtually, resolve the situation and allow the vehicle to continue driving in its autonomous mode," he explained.

According to Sell, 5G teleoperation will solve two main problems. "First, it allows significantly higher data transfer rate, which is required for high-quality live video streaming. Secondly, 5G networks are characterised by low latency, which means that the vehicle responds to the movements controlled by a remote operator without considerable delay," he said.

The CTO at Telia Eesti Andre Visse said that the Telia 5G base station installed on TalTech's campus is used for remote-controlled driving of Iseauto.

"We started preparations for the introduction of 5G technology in Estonia already in 2016, and in the autumn of 2017, at one of the key events of the EU's Estonian Presidency, Digital Summit, hosted in Tallinn, we presented a remote-controlled excavator which is operated over the 5G network. Our current cooperation with TalTech and the project Iseauto has helped to take testing of the possibilities offered by 5G technology to a new level and allows automated driving to be tested across borders," Visse said.

According to him, Telia and TalTech have established a long-term strategic partnership, within the framework of which they jointly carry out R&D and innovation in the field of digital technologies.