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This year C-V2X has come into its own with advancements in hardware, testing, and predicted growth in efforts to accelerate us towards a future of connected cars.
This year C-V2X has come into its own with advancements in hardware, testing, and predicted growth in efforts to accelerate us towards a future of connected cars.
( Source: gemeinfrei / Unsplash)

C-V2X C-V2X communication is the force behind truly connected vehicles

| Author / Editor: Cate Lawrence / Jochen Schwab

This year C-V2X has come into its own with advancements in hardware, testing, and predicted growth in efforts to accelerate us towards a future of connected cars. While 5G receives much of the infrastructural accolades, C-V2X propels us towards cars that can truly communicate with the world around them.

We've long been subjected to the virtues of 5G as the catalyst for autonomous vehicle rollouts with promises of speed, low latency, V2V communication, and real-time over the air updates.

However, it's fair to say that while 5G is important, it's not the only technology at play. Cellular V2X (Vehicle to Everything), also called C-V2X communication, uses features from the mobile industry's 3GPP standards to deliver V2X. It is based on a variant of 4G, uses only one chipset, and can be rapidly deployed as it is compatible with existing base stations. The C-V2X system doesn't rely exclusively on a cellular network to provide alerts.

C-V2X has received broad ecosystem support from entities, including the 5G Automotive Association (5GAA)—a cross-industry consortium that helps define 5G V2X communications. It's members include AUDI, BMW Group, Daimler AG, Huawei, Ericsson, Intel, Nokia, and Qualcomm.

What are the advantages of C-V2X?

Perhaps the most significant selling point for C-V2X is wireless communication between vehicles, traffic signals, and roadside gear. In Australia, Telstra and Ericsson have been developing virtual roadside units (Virtual-RSUs) in software that interact with vehicle and traffic light management platforms. Like physical roadside units, Virtual-RSUs broadcast intersection geometry and traffic light signal phase and timing messages. By using 4G and cloud platforms, traffic light timing and intersection mapping information can be sent to V2I connected vehicles based on their position – without the need for new (expensive to install at scale) hardware on the traffic lights themselves.

The technology is an additional spoke in the wheel of existing capabilities such as LIDAR and cameras that already provide insights into the car and the surrounding infrastructure. Communications among cars, with nearby infrastructure (e.g., lamp poles) and with the network, will complement sensor technologies and enable much-improved accuracy and reliability to be achieved in conjunction with AI software.

C-V2X can, for example, enable a driver to gain insights into road conditions up ahead of such as a patch of ice and warnings of blind spots. It can be used in conjunction with traffic lights to allow emergency vehicles to travel through intersections more smoothly, to extend a green light, or even override the traffic lights and force them to green on their approach.

The pathways are being laid for C-V2X

Qualcomm Technologies announced in March that multiple products featuring its 9150 C-V2X chipset platform have completed certification following the European Radio Equipment Directive (RED) certification in Europe, a requirement for placing radio equipment on the market.

In the US, experimental licenses have been granted to Applied Information by the FCC for testing C-V2X and autonomous vehicles in Arlington and Honolulu. The locations provide a diverse range of topography, flora, seasonal weather, construction, and other potential interferences to radio communications. They offer an opportunity to test, develop, and evaluate C-V2X vehicle communications, transportation infrastructure communications, and chip prototypes in real-world scenarios in anticipation of wider-scale deployments following the adoption of final rules for C-V2X.

it's also been reported that Qualcomm is working with over 30 Chinese automotive companies, including the China-based joint ventures with European and US carmakers, to showcase the commercial viability C-V2X technology for connected and autonomous vehicles. Ford has been testing C-V2X technology in it's autonomous vehicles in China since 2019, and last year announced plans to begin deploying C-V2X, technology in Ford vehicles in China in 2021.

ABI Research predicts that a total of 41 million 5G connected cars will already be on roads by 2030. That number will rise to 83 million 5G connected cars by 2035. By then, 5G connected cars will make up more than 75% of the total C-V2X equipped cars.

5G is the future, but 4G still plays a vital role

While 5G is coming, the global cellular standard is currently LTE-4G. Why is this important? Unlike previous iterations of some technologies, 4G and 5G will coexist. This is particularly important for areas prone to blackouts or poor reception. When your device drops a 5G signal, it will fall back on LTE, and the hand-off should be imperceptible.

When your device drops a 5G signal, it will fall back on LTE, and the hand-off should be imperceptible.
When your device drops a 5G signal, it will fall back on LTE, and the hand-off should be imperceptible.
(Source: gemeinfrei / Pixabay)

Perhaps one of the most significant advantages of 5G over 4G is faster processing speeds. These make it possible for cars to communicate with each other and also act on that communication, such as taking turns at stop signs or merging into lanes or platooning cars to improve fuel economy.

The Unique Challenges of Europe

Europe lags behind other parts of the world in 5G readiness. At the Annual 5G Technitory Forum last year, a policy hackathon was hosted to address the written frameworks that delay progress and lay the foundation for further cross-border, cross-sector, and cross-industry collaboration a more rapid 5G deployment and commercialization.

The winning team looked at cross-border travel of autonomous vehicles and created an extensive list of things that policymakers need to solve or include in the current legislation to truly enable the creation, testing, and deployment of autonomous vehicles.

The list included chapters such as cross-border travel, cyber incidents; mandatory reactions to an incorrect read of a traffic sign; connectivity issues, and liability issues. They also created a roadmap of how policymakers should enable the cross-border travel of autonomous vehicles.

The event demonstrated that while there are cross country divisions, the will is there as countries work on their own plans. For example, Deutsche Telekom plans to install the 5G network on all key transport routes – such as freeways, main roads, and rail tracks – by 2025. Further, the EU last year rejected the European Commission's recommendation of C-ITS/DSRC in favor of CV2X, a big step toward creating a largely uniform standard for connected cars and autonomous driving.

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