Teleoperation can be defined as the technology that enables humans to monitor and control vehicles from remote locations. This technology is based on a chain of high-tech devices ranging from high-speed cameras and modems to the control station itself. The primary purpose of such stations is to allow the operator to passively and remotely control autonomous and semi-autonomous vehicles and, if necessary, take full control of the vehicle or machine.
To realize the core ideology of teleoperation, 5G Blueprint is currently setting up two remote teleoperation stations. The stations will be built by the participating partners, namely V-Tron and HAN University of Applied Sciences in conjunction with Roboauto to facilitate remote operation of a passenger car and a truck.
Although remote driving will be performed in all use cases within the 5G-Blueprint project; the two stations are being created to fulfill the goals of just three use cases, namely ‘automated driver-in-the-loop docking’, ‘Cooperative Adaptive Cruise Control (CACC)-based platooning’, and ‘remote takeover’.
5G-Blueprint remote stations will be built for roadway operations allowing for full control of steering and acceleration/deceleration of the vehicle, provided that the vehicle is equipped with steer-by-wire and drive-by-wire systems. External cameras will be added to the vehicle aiding the teleoperator in visualizing the surroundings around the vehicle. The cameras’ feeds will be displayed using a three-monitor set up at the remote station. The feeds will be bandwidth-intensive so that the teleoperator can visualize the surroundings with very low latency – the connection between the station and the vehicle will use a 5G network. The remote station will also have a two-way audio channel between the vehicle environment and the operator. An extended dashboard will display task-specific information in the accompanying fleet management system and specialized applications provided by partners involved in Work Package 6.
Addressing the safety component is of utmost importance to 5G-Blueprint, which is why the safety dashboard will be introduced as an essential element of safety. The dashboard will allow the remote operator to immediately fire the stop sequence of the vehicle independently of the remote station function.
In the automated driver-in-the-loop docking use case, a truck and a trailer combination will perform fully automated docking within a closed environment such as a dockyard or port (un)loading area. A teleoperator will monitor the maneuvering from the remote station and will take control in a safety-critical situation or when automation encounters an edge case scenario.
In the CACC use case, the vehicles will be platooning in a constant speed zone. The sensors present in the following vehicle will be used to measure the distance from the lead vehicle. The developed controller will then maintain the following vehicle with a pre-set headway time from the lead vehicle. One teleoperator will operate the leader of the platoon and followers will be automated and in certain scenarios, such as a safety-critical situation or when the platoon enters the city roads, the teleoperator will take control of the vehicle using the remote station.
The remote station shown in the picture is a preparatory setup made for the initial testing and development phase. To provide the teleoperator with the feedback from the road the remote stations will be equipped with motion platforms that can replicate the roll, pitch, and yaw motions of the vehicle using the vehicle’s inertial measurement unit (IMU) data. During the piloting phase of the project, the remote station will be set up inside a mobile container so that it can easily and securely be transported to the pilot sites. As one of the project partners, Rakshith Kusumakar said, “Teleoperation is the necessary bridge between today’s conventional vehicles and the autonomous future we envision to establish faith for the users in the technology a human oversight is now necessary. Just like a newborn learning to take the first steps with the parents holding their hands to ensure the confidence and safety.”