Verizon, Nissan connect for car safety using MEC

Verizon and Nissan North America’s Research and Advanced Engineering team completed a proof-of-concept showing how sensor data from vehicles and surrounding infrastructure could be processed at the edge of Verizon’s wireless network to help guide drivers in near real time.

It’s an example of cellular vehicle-to-everything (C-V2X) being applied to scenarios where drivers may find it difficult to see pedestrians or oncoming traffic if they’re obscured from view. The technology uses Verizon 5G Edge, LTE and a Nissan proprietary telematics test platform.

Using Verizon 5G Edge with AWS Wavelength, the sensor data from Nissan vehicles and infrastructure was processed at the edge of Verizon’s wireless network and communicated back via the cellular network to vehicles in near real time, prompting Nissan’s Intelligent Shared World platform to initiate driver notifications, according to the companies.

The process helped notify drivers of detected pedestrians entering roadways from behind other cars or of oncoming vehicles obscured behind larger vehicles, which, for example, can occur during left turns with oncoming traffic. The trial was conducted by Nissan’s Silicon Valley-based Research and Advanced Engineering team.

They already have a public entity lined up to implement the tech in a controlled public environment. The Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA) will start validation of the technology for its Automated Driving Systems Grant Program, with tests to be conducted in controlled public environments in California’s Contra Costa County. Once validated, the technology could be deployed around busy intersections, retirement communities or as part of the county’s Innovate 680 Program.

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“Communication between vehicles and the environment around them, or C-V2X, will be one of the most important transportation innovations of the connected and autonomous future of driving,” said TJ Fox, SVP of Industrial IoT and Automotive, Verizon Business, in a press release. “This proof of concept shows that edge computing with Verizon’s cellular network can help take the resource-intensive compute burden off vehicles and public infrastructure – housing their software platforms and crunching their sensor data for them – and can communicate data outward to prompt potentially lifesaving safety alerts or autonomous driving features in the car, all essentially in real time.”

Big expectations for MEC

Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg was asked about the growth prospects for MEC during the company’s third-quarter earnings conference call on Wednesday and he said that automotive is one of the more promising areas.

Verizon has struck deals with the biggest cloud providers in the market, both on the private 5G mobile edge compute and public edge. “All of them sort of are in execution right now,” he said, noting that commercial contracts have been announced with the likes of Corning and British Ports.

It takes time because they’re creating a new market – and Verizon is “actually alone in this market,” he said. “Nobody else in the world has launched a mobile edge compute at this moment. So of course, we feel really good about that.”

The team is working through the process, from proof of concept to new applications, and the company will start reporting results when it’s time, as it’s done with 5G fixed wireless access, he added. “I’m even more sort of excited [about] automobile edge compute, what I've seen in the last year here with the technology solutions we have and also the customer interaction we have, together with the main partners. I mean, we have the biggest partners you can ever think about in this that are equally much vested as us because that was part of the strategy to bring different partners together.”