Telia in partnership on 5G-connected vehicles for future public transport

Over the next few years, several different pilot projects in Stockholm will focus on how 5G and control towers can help manage public transport in the future. The projects are led by the knowledge hub and testbed Urban ICT Arena in partnership with Keolis, Ericsson, Telia and others. The projects are backed by Vinnova and Drive Sweden. The goal is to explore how a system for remote monitored 5G-connected vehicles can facilitate the safe introduction of self-driving, electric vehicles in urban areas.

Cities in the future will benefit from digitalization and new technologies by making them smarter and more sustainable, thereby improving and simplifying way of life. Efficient public transport that is accessible to many is an essential part of a smart city. Autonomous electric buses can help meet the demand for such a transport system.

The pilot projects will deploy and test 5G-connected, remote-monitored self-driving minibuses at different locations in Stockholm, starting in the tech suburb Kista. The 5G network's unique technical features, including extremely high data speeds combined with low latency, means that the connected buses can respond in real time to commands from the centralized control tower, a prerequisite for safely remote controlling vehicles and an important step to be able to move the driver from the bus the control tower.

Driverless vehicles in the inner city
“This is an exciting project where we can make real progress in the introduction of a sustainable and efficient transport system that more people can access and use. The goal is to test the solution with remote monitored 5G-connected self-driving minibuses in different locations around Stockholm, including Kista and a unique location in the inner city. We hope the progress we make in these pilots will allow us to remove the safety driver from the vehicle and run the entire system from a control tower,” says Jan Jansson, New Mobility Manager at public transport company Keolis.

How 5G can transform public transport
The initiative will also look at what role connected infotainment systems and apps can play in autonomous vehicles, to update travelers about trips, schedules, the location of busses and other important information.
“Self-driving vehicles become safer and more efficient when they are connected and can be controlled in a smart and intelligent way. 5G together with the control tower make this possible and we are far ahead in this exciting development,” says Åsa Tamsons, Head of Business Area Technologies & New Businesses, Ericsson.

“Much of Sweden's high-tech development takes place in Kista Science City, and this strategic partnership continues to strengthen this area’s position as a testing ground for new technology. The initiative also helps us take a step closer to a future public transport system that benefits both society and the environment,” says Johanna Engman, CEO of Kista Science City AB that runs Urban ICT Arena.

Telia recently launched Sweden's first large-scale commercial 5G network in Stockholm in cooperation with Ericsson and is making additional improvements to the network for these projects.
“A robust and secure 5G network, as part of the backbone of society's digital infrastructure is crucial for the transition to sustainable transport solutions that more people can use, which is precisely what these projects are all about: How a 5G-connected transport system can help contribute to a well-functioning, widely available and more climate-smart public transport,” says Magnus Leonhardt, Head of Innovation and Business Development, Telia Sweden.

Urban ICT Arena leads the initiative with Keolis as bus operator. Ericsson provides the technical solution for the connected control tower. Telia delivers the 5G-connectivity in collaboration with Ericsson.
More information about the project will be presented June 16 in connection with Kista Mobility Day.