5G Vehicle-to-Everything (5G-V2X) communications for tunnel safety

How can the tunnel safety industry benefit from the use of 5G networks and V2X communications? What challenges do road tunnels introduce for the deployment of such solutions, and how can they be solved?

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PhD Fellow: Aitor Martin Rodriguez

Supervisor: Naeem Khademi

Co-supervisor: Gianfranco Nencioni

About the project

This PhD project at the University of Stavanger (UiS) is planned for the period September 2022 – August 2026, and supported by the Kapasitetsløft Tunnelsikkerhet (KATS) project funded by the Norwegian Research Council. The major goal of this project is to investigate the use of Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X) communications for tunnel safety, within the context of Cooperative Intelligent Transport Systems (C-ITS).

Road tunnels are an essential element of public road systems, as they allow to reduce travel times in regions with complex topography – e.g., the Norwegian mountains and fjords. However, tunnels can also be dangerous environments where fire and smoke can quickly propagate, reducing visibility and endangering human lives. This introduces the need for specialized safety systems and procedures, with extensive monitoring and emergency response operations.

With the latest advancements in wireless communication technologies (such as the IEEE 802.11p/bd and LTE/NR-V2X standards), the definition of the ETSI C-ITS network protocols and services, and the latest generation cellular network technologies (5G and multi-access edge computing), countless applications for road safety are being tested and validated in open roads around the world. Nevertheless, the opportunities within the tunnel safety field have barely been explored, and the tunnel-specific challenges for deploying such services remain to be investigated.

In this context, this project will perform extensive experimentation, using traffic and network simulators, real-time system emulation, and real-life testing in a testbed environment, using state-of-the-art hardware. Field experiments and demonstrations will also be performed in real tunnels.

The project aims to answer the following research questions:

  • What are the potential use cases for C-ITS and V2X to fill in the research gaps in tunnel safety literature?
  • What are the infrastructure and network requirements for such use cases? How can they be integrated with current road tunnel infrastructure?
  • What are the deployment challenges for such solutions and how can they be solved?
    • How can vehicles achieve reliable positioning and time synchronization in the tunnel in the absence of Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) coverage?
    • How does the tunnel environment affect the V2X wireless channel?
    • Is the cellular network coverage (i.e., 4G/5G) in the tunnel sufficient for deploying such services?
  • How can 5G-MEC be deployed in tunnels to support latency-critical tunnel safety applications? Can these deployments satisfy the requirements of these applications?
  • How can these deployments ensure security and road user privacy?
  • What are the implications for autonomous driving in such environments?

A major goal of this project is to develop a prototype of a “connected tunnel”, which benefits from state-of-the-art ICTs to enhance the current tunnel safety standards and prepare our road tunnels for the vehicles of the future.