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Finland’s 5G plans: ‘We want to build world’s smartest road’

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Finland testing AI assistant to help citizens navigate the public administration
People in Finland are being shown the public and private services that could benefit them most in an ambitious AI trial.

Finnish businesses and local government have a bold plan. They want to build the smartest road in the world.

It will use 5G technology and cover a 31km (19-mile) stretch of Route 51, between the towns of Siuntio and Karjaa in Inkoo municipality, 54km (34 miles) west of Helsinki on the south coast of Finland.

Must read: Smart Cities Special Feature | Industrial IoT Special Feature

The municipality will be working in partnership with Karis Telefon and TammisaarenEnergia, with Nokia providing the 5G technology in the form of smart light poles.

Developed as part of its LuxTurrim5G project, each LED-light pole can be equipped with base stations and antennas that function together to create a 5G network. The proposed smart road will have a total of 620 such light poles, although they will only be connected to the network in stages.

Also: Download the report as a PDF TechRepublic

Robert Nyman, the mayor of Inkoo, is keen to stress that the project is still in its infancy, and they “don’t yet have a concrete plan” for its implementation. This vagueness is partly because it is the state — rather than the municipality — that will make the final decision on the main road’s future development.

It is also because there is no funding yet in place for the project, although Nyman estimates that the basic infrastructure would cost only €2m ($2.26m). One promising source of financial support is Business Finland, whose Smart Mobility fund for Finnish businesses transforming the transport sector totals €50m ($57m).

If the project gets the green light, the digitalized main road will allow for the testing of self-driving cars through the Cellular Vehicle-to-Everything platform (C-V2X) installed in the light poles.

Also: Tech and the future of transportation  

This technology keeps automated vehicles updated on the road’s traffic flows and driving conditions, while their communications system and sensors would be able to connect to those of other vehicles and infrastructure to ensure a safe passage along the smart road.

Much of the information and functionality of C-V2X will, of course, help human drivers travel more safely, too.

Improving safety is particularly important for Route 51. As one of the main arteries from Helsinki to the west, it falls into the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency’s highest category for accident density.

The proposed smart road is also a hotspot for moose collisions. Between 2012 and 2015, there was an average of 17 collisions — and one fatality — a year. With the introduction of 5G technology, big-animal alerts would warn road users of the creatures’ presence, thereby reducing moose-human incidents.

While Route 51 remains a future project, other smart-road tests in Finland are either ongoing or on the more-immediate horizon.


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Most closely connected to Route 51 is the LuxTurrim5G project’s planned three-month trial of its smart light poles this summer. They will be used to support a self-driving bus service on the 1km route between Kera train station and Nokia’s head office. This would be the first 5G smart road in Finland.

The light poles will have to be erected at 50-meter (164ft) intervals due to the high frequency and limited signal strength of the 5G small cells they contain.

Nokia reckons this method of network provision is the most viable solution for digital cities, since a fast-growing number of digital services would soon overload 5G mobile networks operating at frequencies lower than 6GHz.

Finland’s first smart road was established back in November 2017, when a 10km stretch of Route 21 was equipped with sensors and designated the Aurora public test ecosystem.

Also: The new commute: How driverless cars, hyperloop, and drones will change our travel plans TechRepublic | Download the PDF version

This road is located in the very north of Finland, in Muonio, near the border with Norway. On the Norwegian side, there is a sister stretch of smart road, the Borealis to Finland’s Aurora.

As with much cutting-edge technology, Finland is presented in this context as an uncommonly accommodating hostile environment.

The country’s legislation already permits the presence of self-driving cars on public roads, but its climate also challenges their nascent technology with snow, ice and freezing temperatures.

Also: Here’s how C-V2X can change driving, smart cities

Despite these adverse conditions, the smart road has witnessed some notable successes in the first year or so of its operation.

According to Reija Viinanen, director of Aurora Collaboration: “Sensible 4 and VTT Martti have tested snowtonomous-driving technology on the intelligent road. They have tackled freezing fog, freezing temperatures and extreme conditions, while car makers and technology companies are struggling with rain in California.”

Following restructuring of Finland’s traffic and transport organizations at the turn of the year, there is now discussion about Aurora becoming a private company, although Viinanen stresses that its testing operations are continuing unabated.

More on smart cities:

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Previous and related coverage:

Self-driving cars: This robot driver cruises through snow and ice 

Finnish researchers have been testing a winter-proof autonomous car on public roads.

Smart roads: How intelligent surfaces can warn you of hazards round next bend

A Norwegian research project is testing how to use fiber optics to listen to the traffic on a road.

Meet Aurora: Finland’s AI assistant aims to give each citizen tailored advice

People in Finland are being shown the public and private services that could benefit them most in an ambitious AI trial.

Autonomous buses, cars, drones: Norway’s Telenor readies its big 5G pilot

When Telenor’s 5G pilot begins near Oslo later this year, it will be putting a string of applications to real-life testing.

Alphabet’s Wing to take off in Finland

The autonomous drone delivery service is launching in the Helsinki area in spring of 2019.

Calling all drone pilots: Why Finland’s military is turning to civilian fliers for help

With an 830-mile border with Russia and as Europe’s most forested country, it’s understandable that Finland’s interest in drone tech is growing fast.

Smaller, cheaper: How these tiny satellites are spinning off new space data movement

Finnish microsatellite maker ICEYE is part of a wave of startups providing Earth data to business and governments.

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BMW iX5 Hydrogen Production Starts, But Don’t Expect To See This Fuel-Cell SUV In Dealerships

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The reality, though, is that even with a small number of BMW iX5 Hydrogen SUVs being produced — using individual fuel-cells supplied by Toyota, but assembled into a stack by BMW using the automaker’s own processes and technologies — the expectation is that hydrogen as a fuel will be predominantly of interest to non-passenger vehicles. Instead, it arguably makes the most sense, BMW suggests, for larger vehicles like medium- to heavy-duty trucks, along with the marine and aviation sectors. We’ve already seen Toyota reveal its plans for such an FCEV truck.

Despite that, and an acknowledgment that battery-electric vehicles will undoubtedly lead in the mainstream, BMW still believes there’s a place for FCEVs. After all, the automaker argues, if the infrastructure is being built to cater for trucks, there’s no reason not to also use it for passenger vehicles like the iX5 Hydrogen.

The results of the small-series production beginning today will be used as technology demonstrators across select regions from spring 2023, BMW says. It’s unclear at this point how many will be built. Depending on the reception and the strengths of the technology, series production of a first model could follow mid-decade, ahead of a potential full portfolio of BMW FCEVs from the 2030s onwards.

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Tesla Set To Deliver The First Semi To Pepsi

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In October, Tesla’s CEO revealed that the production of the Tesla Semi had begun, and it was bound to be delivered today. Tesla has already started the countdown, and we expect the unveiling event to go down at the Nevada factory. The electric truck will be dispatched to Pepsi, which had ordered 100 units. Investor reports that Tesla’s stock price increased by 7.7% on Wednesday, probably in anticipation of Tesla’s Semi first delivery.

Musk tweeted on Saturday that the “Tesla team just completed a 500-mile drive with a Tesla Semi weighing in at 81,000 lbs!” However, considering that Musk said that the company is dealing with supply chain issues and market inflation, it’s unclear if Tesla will stick to the original $180,000 price it intended to sell at when it was announced in 2017. Then again, Tesla offers a cheaper Semi that will be available for about $150,000 — but it can only achieve up to 300 miles at full load capacity. For now, we can only wait until it’s on the road to confirm if the specs match up to what was promised five years ago.  

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Coinbase Joins Elon Musk In Slamming The Apple App Store Tax

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Coinbase complained that Apple’s insistence on its cut unreasonably interfered with its business.

Coinbase’s argument was largely the same as Elon Musk’s, and the basis of Epic Games’ aforementioned lawsuit. According to all of the above, Apple was half of a duopoly: with Google, it controlled the global app marketplace. The “duopoly” part of the argument is pretty much incontrovertible: As of October 2022, both Apple and Google control 99.43% of the global smartphone market between them (via StatCounter). Both get a 30% cut of everyone’s action on its marketplace. From the perspective of Coinbase, that took too much money out of too many elements of its business.

Epic sued over that and, as noted above, won with an asterisk. Apple had restricted in-app purchases, and courts found that anticompetitive, but did require that Apple get a 30% cut of the profits, even though they took place in someone else’s app. In short, according to the Verge, the court said that if you’ve found a way to make money using iOS, you owe Apple 30%, period.

Epic thought in-app purchases should be exempted from the tax. Coinbase thinks elements of the NFT development process — in this case, gas prices to run the processing equipment necessary to mint NFTs — should be exempt from Apple’s app tax. Apple treats all user expenses on an app as in-app purchases and, per the Epic court decision, in-app purchases mean Apple gets a cut.

It’s not a simple problem, and it’s not likely to be solved anytime soon. Stakeholders and regulators have barely begun to integrate cryptocurrency and NFTs into the conventional marketplace. Who gets paid for what is likely to be a conversation for years on end. For now, all that’s certain is that conversation has begun.

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