What technology is both fast enough and cheap enough for cars to warn each other about highway conditions and hazards? That’s the purpose of a connected car test later this year in San Diego, involving a half-dozen big-time tech players and C-V2X, or cellular vehicle-to-everything communications. AT&T, Ford, Nokia, Qualcomm Technologies and others will test, among other things, how much C-V2X can do directly communicating with vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists, and roadside infrastructure such as traffic signs or construction zones.
Who’s Doing What, Where, and Why
Even without much government involvement, this tale is crammed with buzzwords (synergies, facilitators) and acronyms up the wazoo. We’ll translate as we go along, and keep it simple. This is a test using three things:
- Ford cars. Ford has been quiet lately on autonomous driving, but it’s out front here;
- AT&T cellular data service. AT&T has much of the car telematics market now, not Verizon;
- Nokia computing technology using the emerging Qualcomm 9150 C-V2X chipset, which integrates communications that are both direct (to pedestrians, other cars) and network-based.
This all makes it V2I (vehicle-to-infrastructure), V2V (vehicle-to-vehicle), and V2P (vehicle-to-pedestrian, or cyclist).
The Qualcomm chipset will be available in sample quantities to suppliers and automakers in in 2018, the company said. It could be in 2020 model cars, meaning as little as two years from now.
Testing will take place at the San Diego Regional Proving Ground (SANDAG) working with ITS (intelligent transportation solutions) provider McCain, Inc. SANDAG one of 10 automated vehicle proving grounds in the US. C-V2X is defined as an extension of global cellular standards by the 3GPP, or Third Generation Partnership Project.
Testing will support C-V2X in the 5.9 GHz ITS (intelligent transportation solutions) spectrum, including do-not-pass warnings, intersection movement assist, and left-turn assist. The AT&T cellular network and Nokia cloud infrastructure would provide real-time map updates and event notifications, such as a big sports event letting out or a bridge closure.
Complementary or Competetive?
According to Qualcomm, “[C-V2X is] complementary to other Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) sensors, such as cameras, radar, and LIDAR […] C-V2X technology is designed to support 360-degree non-line-of-sight awareness, and is designed to extend a vehicle’s ability to see, hear, and understand the environment down the road, at blind intersections, or in bad weather conditions.”
In other words, the car(s) ahead of you will report on problems, so you can slow down or take other measures. The system will also have value for autonomous cars, showing them what’s changed in real-time compared with the on-board maps they have.
Wireless communications among cars will save lives. Proponents say it could be four-fifths of those accidents that don’t involve impaired drivers, say 10,000 to 15,000 out of the 32,000 motor vehicle accidents a year. The Qualcomm-AT&T-Ford et al alliance is asking regulatory bodies to keep an open mind (i.e., don’t shut them out) while considering what kinds of dedicated short-range communication (DSRC) radio systems cars would need.
The testing will show the rest of the industry what C-V2X offers, and how well it deals with latency (lag) by prioritizing traffic messages on the network. The Qualcomm consortium says that by 2021, the majority of vehicles will have embedded cellular hardware and connectivity.