By Dr. Andrés Cárdenas, Researcher at I2CAT Foundation, Assistant Professor at Polytecnic University of Catalonia (UPC)
The evolution of connected vehicles has resulted in a paradigm shift in the transportation industry, fundamentally transforming the manner in which these vehicles navigate and engage with the road. Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X) communication has emerged as a critical component for enhancing road safety and enabling efficient transportation systems. Thus, to address the challenges of managing the vehicular service communications, a highly flexible and customized V2X solution is required. In that sense, a proof of concept of implementing a V2X solution for improving mobility safety was showcased during the OSM#14 Ecosystem Day event. We encourage interested readers to visit the OSM PoC#15 to see how this technology works in practice. The aim of this blog post is to emphasize the benefits of implementing V2X communications in Edge Computing environments and to highlight how Open Source MANO (OSM) enables the flexible deployment of V2X network services, leveraging the capabilities of orchestrating the Cloud Native Functions (CNFs).
V2X technology is a revolutionary communication system that has been standardized in different regions, including the USA, Europe, and China. The standards developed by ETSI C-ITS (Cooperative Intelligent Transport Systems) are the ones adopted in Europe. V2X allows vehicles to interact with other vehicles, infrastructure, and even pedestrians. This exchange of information can help drivers avoid hazards, reduce traffic congestion, and enhance road safety. V2X is especially crucial for connected and autonomous vehicles, since it enables them to keep informed of road situations and make decisions more efficiently. Additionally, by enabling vehicles to communicate with their surroundings, V2X technology has the potential to reduce emissions and provide a more secure driving experience for users.
The V2X stack solution was developed by I2CAT Foundation (https://i2cat.net/) in the context of the H2020 PLEDGER Project (http://www.pledger-project.eu/) which aimed to offer a set of tools and processes that enable edge computing infrastructures to provide stable and effective environments for the execution of heterogeneous services with strict QoS. One of the services proposed in the project was the implementation of V2X technologies for the management of information exchange between vulnerable road users (VRUs) and vehicles whose demonstration is part of the practical use case presented in the demo.
The demo makes use of the V2X standard defined by ETSI C-ITS. This standard specifies both the protocol stack required for sharing V2X messages and the network infrastructure over which V2X messages will be exchanged. The protocol stack implemented by the standard comprises the traditional physical layer protocols (PHY, MAC) and network protocols (IPv4, IPv6, BTP GeoNetworking). Also, it defines the V2X message headers and incorporates message encryption and data transmission functions (see Fig. 1.a).
Furthermore, the infrastructure defined by C-ITS outlines several communication components that must enable V2X communication, such as Road-Side Units (RSUs) and On-Board Units (OBUs). RSUs are wireless access points situated on streets, highways, and other areas where they can be used to communicate V2X messages which can also host computing components where V2X applications or services can be instantiated. OBUs, on the other hand, are devices that connect vehicles to the network infrastructure. It means, they include wireless systems for transmitting and receiving information, as shown in Fig. 1.b.
a) ETSI V2X stack b) Infrastructure
Fig1. ETSI C-ITS based V2X and Network Infrastructure
The work mainly focuses on the design, implementation, and virtualization of the V2X stack to enable over-the-top applications to leverage information from V2X messages to alert end users, for example, VRUs. To accomplish this, the first step taken was to develop and implement the V2X protocol stack (V2X Com) that is compliant with ETSI C-ITS. Then, the Edge infrastructure was defined and deployed that comprises a Kubernetes (k8s) cluster composed of several compute nodes. Some of the k8s nodes were placed in positions analogous to RSUs, acting as Far Edge environments. These nodes have the capability to host the virtualized V2X stack services. Additionally, the Edge environment is represented by another k8s node which hosts the Message Queuing Telemetry Transport (MQTT) Broker service. The role of the MQTT service is to facilitate the messaging exchange between the V2X Com services. Therefore, the V2X solution is composed of primary components, namely V2X Com and MQTT Broker.
Several networking, virtualization and orchestration tools were used to deploy these services. Multus was implemented as a network tool to facilitate the isolation of data traffic between vehicles using VLANs in Kubernetes environments. Helm tool was used as a package to facilitate the installation of application packages within the Kubernetes cluster. Finally, to enable dynamic, distributed and flexible instantiation of V2X services in Edge Clouds environments, ETSI OSM was used. Thanks to the Instantiation Parameters functionalities provided by OSM, an efficient distribution of the V2X services (acting as Cloud Native Functions - CNFs) across different Far Edge nodes was reached. In other words, having a single V2X Com CNF descriptor, ETSI OSM allows the deployment of several V2X Com services which serve different vehicles. This approach improved the resource utilization and service availability in the Edge Cloud environment.
Fig. 2 Architectural framework for deploying V2X Stack services in Edge environments.
Finally, to highlight the advantages of deploying V2X technologies in virtualized Edge environments, the demo not only presents comprehensive information on the design, implementation, and operation of the V2X services, but also provides a realistic use case as an example of how Over The Top (OTT) applications leverage V2X technology functionalities to provide user-centric services.
This work has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under grant agreements No 833611- CARAMEL and No 871536-PLEDGER. This work was also supported by the Spanish National Project ONOFRE-3 (ref.no. PID2020-112675RB)