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NEC and the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute Demonstrate Intersection Safety Using Private 5G and AI-based Video Analytics
Innovative solution saves lives at intersections on public roadways
SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA/BLACKSBURG, VIRGINIA (USA) – June 5, 2023 - NEC Corporation of America (NEC), a leading provider and integrator of advanced IT, communications and networking solutions and the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) a renowned leader in transportation research, today announced they have combined private 5G and artificial intelligence (AI) to create a roadway warning system that could potentially save lives.
NEC and VTTI’s research has created the potential to identify dangerous traffic conditions and hazards, such as the approach of pedestrians or animals, and provide warnings to drivers. These tests were conducted from January to March 2023 in Blacksburg, Virginia on the Virginia Smart Roads, one of the only facilities in the world that can conduct these advanced tests.
"This solution combines private 5G and state-of-the-art AI-based video analytics with C-V2X technology to create social value that contributes to safety and security for vehicles and pedestrians in the vicinity of intersections,” said Masahiko Mack Nakagawa, Vice President of Corporate Business Development Division, NEC. “These technologies can identify hazardous situations in areas that can be blind spots for drivers and pedestrians and warn them of such situations. This solution can reduce crashes and fatalities, as well as support automated driving from roadside infrastructure," he added.
The use of 5G is expanding throughout a wide range of fields, and demand for 5G networking is expected to continue growing globally. In response, NEC is conducting verification tests, such as these with researchers from VTTI, to develop best practices in effectively using 5G for traffic safety across various frequency bands, technical specifications, and other conditions internationally.
During these tests, cameras and private 5G base stations that are installed on signal poles of VTTI’s private testing facility transmitted high-definition traffic images via private 5G, enabling real-time analysis of the images using AI.
"The concept of infrastructure-cooperative mobility that NEC is aiming for requires highly reliable, low-latency communications via a dedicated network to predict or detect incidents near intersections,” said Mike Mollenhauer, Director of the Division of Technology Implementation at VTTI. “VTTI believes this proof of concept will complement C-V2X technology and improve road safety by informing vehicles and pedestrians of possible traffic hazards when passing through an intersection. VTTI intends to work with NEC to apply the results of these tests to intersections on live public roads."
The private 5G in this demonstration used the n78 frequency band used by the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) in the U.S. The base stations introduced for private 5G networking align with O-RAN Alliance* specifications and the tests were conducted under the commission of Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications' "Verification Tests of 5G and Video Analysis Applications Using Traffic Signals in the United States."
These tests do not use technologies for identifying or authenticating individuals. The tests included software-based privacy filtering based on requirements of the Virginia Department of Transportation.
NEC will leverage these tests to develop additional technologies that contribute to the reduction of traffic accidents and traffic congestion throughout the world.
*The O-RAN Alliance is an industrial organization that promotes an ecosystem of innovative, multi-vendor, interoperable, and autonomous RAN (Radio Access Networks), with reduced cost, improved performance and greater agility.
CBRS: Citizens Broadband Radio Service shared wireless spectrum in the 3.5GHz band that could have big implications for building private broadband networks and for extending public 4G and 5G services.
About NEC Corporation of America
NEC Corporation of America (NEC) is a leading technology integrator providing solutions that improve the way people work and communicate. NEC delivers integrated Solutions for Society that are aligned with our customers’ priorities to create new value for people, businesses, and society, with a special focus on safety, security, and efficiency. We deliver one of the industry’s strongest and most innovative portfolios of communications, analytics, security, biometrics, and technology solutions that unleash customers’ productivity potential. Through these solutions, NEC combines its best-in-class solutions and technology and leverages a robust partner ecosystem to solve today’s most complex business problems. NEC Corporation of America is a wholly-owned subsidiary of NEC Corporation, a global technology leader with a presence in 140 countries and $27 billion in revenues. For more information, please visit www.necam.com.
About Virginia Tech Transportation Institute
As one of seven premier research institutes created by Virginia Tech to answer national challenges, VTTI is continually advancing transportation through innovation and has affected public policy on national and international levels.
VTTI has grown from 15 faculty, staff, and students to become one of the largest university-level transportation institutes in the U.S. with approximately 300 employees. VTTI has effected significant changes in public policies for driver, passenger, and pedestrian safety and is advancing the design of vehicles and infrastructure to increase safety and reduce environmental impacts.
In all endeavors, the VTTI community is charged with finding solutions to the greatest transportation challenges facing our world. The faculty, staff, and students of VTTI are truly dedicating their lives to saving lives.