Ericsson, Telia take 5G for a royal ride

Ericsson is helping power a 5G-enabled autonomous minibus that takes passengers to two popular attractions in Stockholm, Sweden, as part of a two-week pilot project.

Prince Daniel of the Swedish Royal Family attended the launch this week, which included partners Telia, Intel, T-Engineering, Urban ICT Arena and bus operator Keolis.

Telia launched 5G in Stockholm in May and deployed 5G Ericsson gear along the pilot route on the island of Djurgården specifically for the project. Ericsson radio equipment connects the minibus with Telia’s 5G, and a control tower uses vendor’s connected traffic tower solution for automated transportation.

Intel is providing analytics and processing technology across the network including the vehicle IT system, the control tower and the mobile network.

Dubbed "5G Ride," the initiative runs until October 8 and is open to the public (with COVID-19 related precautions and guidelines). They can ride in the self-driving minibus along a short route, stopping at the Biological Museum and Rosendal Castle.

5G capabilities like high-speed data transfer, low latency and reliability are key enablers so that the minibus can respond to centralized control tower commands in real time. More tests are expected to happen in 2021.

Through this and other projects, the city of Stockholm is looking to new technologies like 5G and autonomous electric vehicles to solve issues with congestion, air quality, and carbon emissions.

“We are positive to these types of pilot projects because we believe that the vehicle of the future is autonomous, electric and easy to share, and this autonomous electric bus is a perfect example of that,” said Daniel Helldén, vice mayor of Traffic in Stockholm in a statement.

From a carrier perspective, Telia pointed to a scenario where operators control large fleets of self-driving vehicles remotely, to optimize route planning and traffic. The pilot minibus is electric-powered and could shrink the environmental footprint and save on operational costs, the carrier said.  

“This is a great example of how 5G can benefit society. Self-driving technology combined with electrification and 5G can help transform public transport, making it more efficient to operate and more accessible to the people who need it, while reducing the environmental footprint. Key components in building smarter cities,” said Anders Olsson, CEO of Telia Sweden, in a statement.

Check out a video of the launch here.

The 5G Drive pilot is part a larger 5G-connected vehicle initiative led by the Urban ICT Arena that Telia and Ericsson are partners on. It involves several pilot projects over the next few years in Stockholm that explore how 5G and control towers can help manage public transportation and safely introduce self-driving technology into urban areas. Sweden’s research and development agency Vinnova, and Drive Sweden are backing the projects.

In other Ericsson news this week, the vendor teamed up with Hitachi on a dedicated 5G network at its Silicon Valley Research Center in Santa Clara, California to test industrial IoT solutions.