The promise of connected vehicles is enormous: they stand to improve traffic safety and efficiency, reduce air pollution, and improve quality of life for millions of people. Vehicle to Everything (V2X) technology is set to save 1,000 lives per year in the US alone, for instance, according to forecasts by the US Department of Transportation, and reduce non-fatal injuries by 2.3 million – as well as reduce the 14% of global greenhouse emissions that come from transportation. But for all this to be realised at scale, smart vehicles require a reliable, secure network technology to connect them, and the backing of a strong ecosystem. To ensure this, the GSMA this week signed a three-year cooperation agreement with the 5G Automotive Association (5GAA), to develop common standards, help ensure user privacy and security, and target the 5.9GHz spectrum band specifically for the internet of vehicles.
Crucial to this work is a common understanding that C-V2X (Cellular Vehicle-to-Everything) be the preferred mode of connectivity for smart vehicles as they are being rolled out for years to come. C-V2X is the official industry standard technology for vehicle communication and allows vehicles to talk to each other, roadside infrastructure, pedestrians, cyclists and the mobile network.
C-V2X is commercially available today, and can be deployed via existing, ubiquitous LTE infrastructure. “C-V2X technology is set to revolutionise the mobility ecosystem and the way vehicles and drivers interact with the world, including vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists,” says Maxime Flament, Chief Technology Officer of 5GAA. “It is an essential stepping stone for the ongoing digitisation of transportation by providing real-time, highly reliable, and actionable information flows to enable road safety, traffic efficiency and environmental progress.” In addition to the practical advantages it enjoys over alternatives, C-V2X is the only connected vehicles technology with a sustainable roadmap to 5G, which is vital to the enablement of fully autonomous and cooperative driving.
C-V2X’s rollout is supported by a broad-based ecosystem of world leading industry players – including mobile operators, automakers, vendors and suppliers. Senior stakeholders from that ecosystem met with key government officials in Brussels this week for the technology showcase event C-V2X: Making Europe’s Roads Safer and Smarter, to discuss the state of the European, Chinese and US markets for C-V2X, consider existing pilots and use cases, and learn how the technology will evolve to 5G in the future. Having recently averted moves to adopt Wi-Fi based DSRC/802.11p as the standard technology across the EU, Europe was a particularly suitable place for industry leaders to meet and emphasise the peerless capacities of C-V2X.
C-V2X has matured thanks to broad cross-industry support, says Huawei. Major carmakers are now speeding up the business cases and pre-installation of C-V2X in their vehicles. The standard is defined, the vision is clear, the status of trials advanced. Huawei’s research and field tests indicate that C-V2X offers high network security and reliability, as well as better performance in terms of coverage and latency compared to other existing alternatives. China is currently at the forefront of the deployment of C-V2X. So far more than 20 C-V2X projects have been initiated in China and 13 carmakers have published their roadmaps for rollout of the technology, says Huawei. During the event, Huawei demonstrated its C-V2X hardware solutions, including a Roadside Unit (RSU) and Onboard Unit (OBU). This equipment has already been deployed in many projects in city areas and highways of China. In Wuxi alone, 400 RSUs will be deployed this year to cover the majority of the city.
Ericsson’s Head of Mobile Broadband & IoT at Business Area Networks Marie Hogan outlined some of the key partnerships across Europe that are underway to ensure cellular networks will perform as required for mass-market adoption. These include Veoneer’s ADAS & AD system to improve safety for vulnerable road users, Einride’s driverless truck transportation enabled by enhanced connectivity based on 5G, and Volvo’s testing to clear roads for emergency vehicles. A key automotive trial case was also successfully tested and demonstrated in Australia, showing how vehicles could detect pedestrians at intersections as well as red light violation alerts utilising the 4G network. “4G LTE and 5G NR are ideal technologies for use in Connected Vehicles and Intelligent Transport Systems, offering high data rates, high reliability and very low latency to enable a wide range of transportation-related use cases. These inherently secure 3GPP technologies allow smooth evolution from 4G to 5G and provide both a safe and sustainable environment for drivers, vehicles and goods,” says Marie Hogan.
Anne-Lise Thieblemont, Senior Director for Government Relations at Qualcomm, provided insights into the developments of the connected car market in the US and highlighted a number of use cases, such as the joint venture of Panasonic, Qualcomm, Ford and Colorado Department of Transport (CDOT) in deploying the first C-V2X project in the US. C-V2X is widely supported across the mobile industry and its partner industries in this field. With the Federal Communications Commission in the US now expected to issue a waiver to commitments in 2003 to outdated DSRC technology in favour of allowing C-V2X, and a new Delegated Act to come from the European Commission, what is needed is not for civic authorities to mandate one particular technology over another. Where those involved in the business of securing excellence in connected road transport are given a choice, there will be little competition: C-V2X is assuredly the future of smart mobility.