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Pioneering autonomous vehicle solutions with 5G

Pioneering autonomous vehicle solutions with 5G

How the NorthStar 5G network inspires innovation

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Early access to new 5G network functionality with NorthStar is allowing leading enterprises in Sweden to develop and test new differentiated connectivity solutions. AstaZero is seizing this opportunity to pioneer autonomous vehicle solutions and active safety systems.

Key insights

Differentiated connectivity

5G technology, especially network slicing, has great potential for establishing new standards for how vehicles communicate via differentiated levels of connectivity.

Accelerating technology developments

Access to 5G technologies in a safe environment will speed up the development of new offerings for safer and more sustainable transport solutions.

Industry-wide innovation

AstaZero explores automotive use cases, but the model of providing network performance levels based on connectivity characteristics resonates across all industries.

The proving ground

AstaZero’s proving ground, located outside Gothenburg in Sweden, offers a controlled environment for testing active safety systems, autonomous driving and vehicle-to-vehicle communication. Access to cutting-edge 5G technologies is provided through the NorthStar innovation program’s 5G network.[1] This access enables thorough testing of performance and safety in use case scenarios related to autonomous driving and active safety systems, in realistic traffic environments such as highways, cityscapes and rural areas. These research efforts will make a significant contribution to advancing the development of next-generation vehicle safety and automation.

5G network slicing for automotive applications

Automated vehicles operate within systems that are far more complex than traditional transport infrastructure. Advancing automated transport technologies will require ongoing research and development of system integration, cyber security, edge computing and connectivity solutions. By establishing a collaborative forum for sharing and testing new ideas, AstaZero aims to expedite the global transition toward safe and sustainable automated transportation.

Leveraging 5G network slicing, AstaZero can create customized connectivity for specific applications and customer requirements. Each network slice functions as an independent entity with its own distinct set of resources, characteristics and performance parameters, including bandwidth, latency and reliability. For an automated vehicle, it is essential for the remote operator to have a real-time view of the vehicle’s surroundings in order to respond promptly to unexpected obstacles. This necessitates a network connection with low latency. Likewise, a video feed requires sufficient bandwidth to maintain a certain quality of video resolution, enabling a remote operator to accurately detect and identify distant objects, such as vehicles or animals, and take necessary actions. A critical aspect of the research at AstaZero is facilitating cooperation and dialogue between service providers and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), to establish a mutual understanding of the end-to-end requirements and network capabilities essential for each specific test. This is crucial for correctly configuring the network slices for each use case. AstaZero demonstrates the practical application of 5G network slicing and quality of service (QoS) functions in various test cases, positioning itself as a pioneer in implementing this functionality at an automotive proving ground. One particular setup currently being tested and demonstrated, in both research and customer projects, is remote vehicle operation where latency requirements and reliability of data flows for control signaling are at the core of the operations.


Telia is a market-leading service provider in Sweden, delivering innovative services for more digitalized and sustainable societies across the Nordics and the Baltics.


AstaZero is the world’s first full-scale proving ground, specially designed to support the development of advanced automotive technology and active safety systems. AstaZero is owned by RISE Research Institutes of Sweden, with industrial partners including Volvo Group, Volvo Cars, Scania, Qualcomm and APTIV.

Remote control, no reconfiguration

A distinctive aspect of NorthStar’s 5G innovation network is its capability to share setups across various locations and enable connections from one place to another. This means scenarios with the same configuration can be established in different locations. For example, this capability allows AstaZero to transfer the control center for a remotely operated vehicle to Telia Sweden’s main offices in Stockholm, as well as at any test customers’ premises. Leveraging NorthStar network instances, AstaZero can replicate the setup used at the test track. Consequently, the research vehicle at the AstaZero test track can be remotely operated from entirely new locations without requiring additional configuration.

Figure 22: Capabilities at the AstaZero proving ground, Gothenburg

Capabilities at the AstaZero proving ground, Gothenburg

Remote operations test setup

During remote operation tests, a control tower is established at a distant geolocation, while the remotely operated vehicle remains at the AstaZero proving ground. The test vehicle is equipped with cameras that stream a video feed from the perspective of the driver’s seat. Remote control centers can be established at the offices of commercial partners, enabling the vehicle at the test track to be operated without personnel needing to be physically present.

A geofence solution ensures that the vehicle never leaves the designated safe driving area, with video feeds tracking the vehicle’s position. This information is streamed to the control center along with other critical data points, such as velocity and course.

The various video feeds are organized using video streaming software to ensure the remote operator receives all the necessary information to conduct the test. This setup requires high-performance network connectivity, adapted to specific workloads of high throughput and constant latency. Throughout testing, all critical infrastructure is connected to slices with higher priorities ensuring vital signals always maintain a high priority.

Utilizing multiple slices

At the AstaZero proving ground, the network was configured for a test scenario that enabled the remote operation of a vehicle over 5G, while simultaneously utilizing multiple automotive applications on different network slices. This involved managing three 4K video streams from the research vehicle and one from the stationary vehicle, geofencing data, positioning data for supervising the actual test, and uploading a substantial amount of test data from the vehicles. The video stream quality on the “best-effort” slice noticeably degraded during times of network congestion, a problem not experienced by the research vehicle on the “premium” slice. Likewise, vehicle control for the remotely operated car remained unaffected. By assigning critical data to dedicated network slices, consistent transmission of this data can be ensured at a defined performance level, in contrast to non-critical data transmitted over a best-effort slice, which may be affected by congestion or may not meet specific bandwidth or QoS requirements.

5G network slicing for remote-controlled vehicles

Two vehicles were present at the test track, including the AstaZero research vehicle. It was equipped with a drive-by-wire kit, a comprehensive hardware kit, and software system enabling electronic control of the car’s brake, throttle and steering. This setup allowed for fully automated driving of the vehicle. An additional software layer was integrated into the system, enabling it to interface with both a test orchestrating platform[2] and the geofencing solution at the proving ground. This configuration also facilitated the direct transmission of control signals to the vehicle from a steering wheel and pedals located at any given geolocation, enabling remote operators to control the vehicle from a distance. Additionally, a navigational system for precise positioning was installed in the car. This enabled test engineers to refine the vehicle’s positioning data and extract time-synchronized logs detailing various aspects of the vehicle’s behavior.

To maintain a stable connection to the 5G networks and facilitate the execution of specific test cases, the research vehicle was equipped with an automotive antenna,[3] Wi-Fi router[4] and a Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) antenna[5] connected to an industrial 5G router.

This setup enabled the research vehicle to receive satellite-based positioning and connect to the 4G/5G networks at the test track. This capability made it possible to run various applications directly in the vehicle and send relevant data to central monitoring systems, such as the test orchestration software or the geofencing solution. Importantly, the ability to transfer location data and other information from objects on the track is not limited to vehicles. For instance, a connected vest has been used in demonstrations to illustrate how vulnerable road users at the test track can be safeguarded. By connecting the high-visibility vests worn by personnel at the test track to the geofencing solution, emergency stop functionality can be enabled when someone enters a restricted area during an active test.

The AstaZero research vehicle was connected to the high-priority slice with the data flows below, defined by individual 5G QoS identifier (5QI) values for different QoS levels within the slice. 5QI is a unique identifier, as defined by 3GPP, that is used to manage and prioritize different types of network traffic based on their specific QoS requirements. It is used to ensure that each traffic type receives the appropriate level of service quality, such as low latency, high throughput or reliability. A higher 5QI level can broadly be considered to indicate a better quality of service in the network:

  • High priority vehicle control signaling (5QI-235).[6] In this demo case, the setup involved USB over IP signaling from a hand controller, but the configuration is designed to be versatile, enabling future demonstrations to utilize the same software with a steering wheel and pedals. These signals interface with a software layer integrated into the drive-by-wire system of the research vehicle, enabling comprehensive control of the vehicle.
  • Actual positioning data and simulated data flows in the form of large binary files (5QI-9).
  • Video and heartbeat stream (5QI-6). This stream enables the remote operator to see the same view from the control center that they would if located inside the car. The heartbeat functionality ensures that this feed is always kept on.

In addition, a low-priority network slice (“best-effort” slice) was set up for one of the vehicles which consisted of data flows (5QI-9).

The Data Network Name (DNN) is used to identify and route traffic to a specific network slice. As can be seen in this demo setup, the division of which data will be transmitted using a particular slice is of paramount importance when creating a certain setup to ensure that critical data, in this case the control signaling and video for the remotely operated vehicle, can be continuously transmitted. As the network becomes congested, the video feed from the stationary (parked) car on the best-effort slice starts to degrade, while the operation of the remotely driven research vehicle continues unaffected. When the stationary car moves to a different cell without congestion the quality of its video feed is restored.

Secure, reliable connectivity

One of the key research objectives is to investigate how autonomous vehicles can maintain secure and reliable connectivity and determine the appropriate slices and QoS levels. Together, this ensures the seamless flow of critical data when transferring testing of autonomous driving vehicles from the confined area of AstaZero to public roads. With the implementation of 5G-enabled corridors on public roads using NorthStar,[7] a configuration that has demonstrated success within the confines of the test track can be safely and seamlessly transferred to these corridors without the need for additional network configuration.

For example, self-driving trucks can be operated via AstaZero’s dedicated network, replicating a port or logistics center scenario, and seamlessly transition to the public network, mirroring real-world scenarios such as a vehicle departing from a port or logistics center. A control center similar to the one at the AstaZero test track for this demonstration can then be deployed at any other NorthStar-enabled site to allow remote operation or visualization of the vehicle performance.

Figure 23: High-level setup of demo and the 5G network slicing

Figure 23: High-level setup of demo and the 5G network slicing

Figure 24: Load test of network slices

Figure 24: Load test of network slices

1. Video stream from remote operated car started
2. Video stream from parked car
3. Data load from additional load clients started: Quality of video stream degrades
4. Parked car starts moving and connects to another network cell: Quality of video stream restored
5. End of test

Creating value with differentiated connectivity

The AstaZero proving ground case demonstrates the capabilities of 5G SA. It highlights the previously unavailable value of new connectivity technologies. For the automotive industry, it illustrates basic aspects such as how network changes, outages, congestion or other parameters affect system components and their associated data streams. This leads to better understanding of how to ensure that, for example, safety systems in vehicles are guaranteed to immediately, securely and reliably receive information. This results in a deeper understanding of the design requirements for applications and features, as well as the necessary network performance requirements to support their functionality.

Different connection characteristics have an impact on the required network performance level for an application to function effectively. Examining these gives an opportunity to understand what type of connection is right for specific tasks. For example, a slice with ultra-low latency is essential for controlling the movement of a remotely operated vehicle, while a best-effort slice may be sufficient to handle background vehicle status data, for example fuel levels. With this understanding, application and service designers can build new features, or significantly improve existing ones – relying on fit-for-purpose, performance-based connectivity instead of relying on best-effort.

To advance intelligent transportation systems, 5G SA networks must support diverse use cases, enabling the development of compelling service propositions with assured service levels. In addition, a broader ecosystem of automotive industry players and partners must come together to evolve the capabilities that allow vehicles to communicate with other vehicles (V2V), infrastructure (V2I), pedestrians (V2P) and networks (V2N).

While the AstaZero project explores automotive use cases, the model of providing network performance levels based on connectivity characteristics is one that resonates across all industries.

The NorthStar 5G network

NorthStar is a 5G innovation program for industrial enterprises, for the development and implementation of digital solutions driving efficiency, safety and sustainability. It has a dedicated, purpose-built mobile network, which is run by Telia alongside its public 5G network.

As NorthStar deploys the latest 5G enablers immediately, making them available exclusively to its customers and partners at any location, it gives them a head start in developing, testing and monetizing new, advanced solutions. Aside from the 5G technology aspect, the program seeks to foster new models of collaboration between enterprises, start-ups, academia and the public sector with the aim of creating more sustainable and resilient communities. It brings together experts and specialists from Telia and its customers and partners from various industry fields. NorthStar’s customers can also build dedicated network infrastructure – for example at test sites and R&D facilities – and connect it to the innovation network. The ability to leverage both public and dedicated networks will allow customers to access the innovation hub regardless of where they are located. Examples of technologies customers can explore include network slicing, positioning for high accuracy, high availability and low latency. The ability to provide this advanced level of service is in part due to Telia’s drive to evolve IT support systems to align with industry and customer demands. This transformation journey is a key enabler for its ambition to monetize, operate and scale services based on differentiated connectivity.

Figure 25: NorthStar 5G innovation network enables a multitude of use case scenarios

Figure 25: NorthStar 5G innovation network enables a multitude of use case scenarios

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Telia’s purpose-built mobile network, run alongside its public 5G network.
410–3,800 MHz; 4X4 LTE (MIMO), 6.2dBi.
2X2 Wi-Fi (MIMO), 7 dBi.
21 dBi.
5QI-235 in this use case is not defined by 3GPP.