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DSRC/802.11p or Cellular, Qualcomm Technologies can bring direct V2X communications in any flavor

Nov 23, 2016

Qualcomm products mentioned within this post are offered by Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries.

The automotive industry has been integrating wireless solutions into cars for over 20 years. What started off as basic wireless connectivity service in GSM and CDMA days has now evolved into an ever-expanding set of use cases ranging from voice-based connectivity, including emergency-calling and concierge services, to on-demand navigation and Wi-Fi hotspot capability, to over-the-air software updates, remote diagnostics, and cloud-based data analytics, taking advantage of 4G LTE-Advanced technologies. 

In the next few years, most new vehicles are expected to integrate a wireless modem and use existing commercial cellular networks for the aforementioned use cases. The car is one of the most important “things” in the Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem. It has some of the richest sets of use cases due to its unique and concurrent nature of applications that need both low latency and high bandwidth support, the highest levels of security, and the need to serve not only the driver, but the passenger, the environment, the automaker, the insurer, the fleet owner, and the shared mobility service provider simultaneously. The car is already driving the requirements for the next generation of wireless technologies.

The opportunity

The automotive industry is going through an unprecedented transformation where the following conditions are happening concurrently: 

  • cars are becoming carbon-emissions free with EV vehicles
  • shared mobility services are further reducing congestion and pollution
  • the definition of car-ownership is changing
  • automakers are committing to higher safety standards while road authorities are getting closer to the goal of zero-fatalities
  • the race towards automated driving is heating up across the industry

Meanwhile, the wireless ecosystem is planning its next technology upgrade cycle with 5G just around the corner. 5G trials are ongoing in 2016, and we at Qualcomm Technologies believe that 5G will not only bring multiple Gbps of bandwidth to a single user, but new 5G services will also offer mission-critical latencies of several milliseconds, and the ability to connect a massive number of connections securely, at a global scale. As more processing and performance moves to the edge, LTE and its evolution to 5G will enable device-to-device and device-to-local-infrastructure connections.

The role of wireless communications has never been more important in transportation, and as automotive requirements and wireless capabilities intersect, wireless technologies will be developed and optimized specifically to support these new vehicular use cases. In addition, wireless technologies will help make cities smarter and more transportation-friendly, vehicles more intelligent, and enable roadside infrastructure to become connected, so vehicles can communicate with each other and their environments.

The challenges

Traditionally, automakers have integrated 3G and LTE modems in cars for Vehicle-to-cellular-Network (V2N) communications, supporting cloud-based services and internet connectivity. New advanced technologies, such as Dedicated Short Range Communication (DSRC)/Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS)-G5 and Cellular-V2X (Vehicle-to-everything), offer new modes of communication for Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) and Vehicle-to-roadside-Infrastructure (V2I), which promise new services to change the automobile’s driving and safety experience completely.

But these systems only work if a majority of vehicles are enabled with the technology and roadside infrastructure is deployed, maintained, and supported ubiquitously*Without the ubiquitous deployments of technology in cars and in roadside infrastructure, the value of any such service may be limited. Optimally, the economics and a winning business model are imperative for V2X services to succeed and be adopted broadly.

Qualcomm Technologies and V2X services

Qualcomm Technologies has been a proud supplier of cellular-based wireless modems to the automotive industry since 2002. From a product perspective, Qualcomm Technologies offers a variety of 3G, 4G LTE, and 4G LTE-Advanced modems to the automotive ecosystem for network-based communications over mobile networks and their licensed spectrum.

As automotive use cases further drive mission-critical requirements like low latency and high reliability, we are focusing our internal automotive R&D investments and efforts to ensure that our technology roadmap supports a trajectory that allows us to support the vision of increased automotive safety and automated driving. 

For V2X direct communications, we support two types of solutions. Both operate without network infrastructure and both can utilize 5.9GHz ITS spectrum. The two flavors of lower radio layers (Physical Layer (PHY)/Medium Access Control (MAC)) technology, are able to benefit from the same automotive investments into upper layers developed in standard development organizations, such as Society for Automotive Engineers (SAE), European Telecommunications Standards Institute – Intelligent Transport Systems (ETSI-ITS), Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

Qualcomm Technologies supports IEEE 802.11p-based products (QCA6584, for example, which is commercially available today), and we are currently developing our third generation DSRC/ITS-G5 product. Qualcomm acquired Atheros in 2011, where DSRC technology development and standardization had been ongoing since 2004.

We are a leader in many standards forums supporting DSRC/ITS-G5 from SAE to the Wi-Fi Alliance. We actively participate in trials, interoperability testing, and we work closely with the automotive industry to bring solutions to the ecosystem in both factory-fit and aftermarket opportunities around the world. We currently chair the DSRC Task Group in the Wi-Fi Alliance that is responsible for DSRC certification. As part of our ecosystem initiatives, Honda and Qualcomm Technologies shared our collaborations with The White House and USDOT to provide our perspective on protecting vulnerable road users through Vehicle-to-Pedestrian (V2P) services, where vehicles directly communicate with smartphones.

Qualcomm Technologies also supports 3GPP Cellular-V2X technology development and integration into our upcoming LTE products for automotive, as well as our leading role in the 5G Automotive Association (5GAA), which in a recent white paper elaborates on why Cellular-V2X technology at the radio level is an essential enabler to transformational connected transportation services throughout the world.

Qualcomm Incorporated, along with Audi, BMW, Daimler, Deutsche Telekom, Ericsson, Huawei, Intel, Nokia, SK Telecom, Valeo, and Vodafone are members of the recently established and fast growing 5GAA joint automotive/telecom global association. 5GAA is a multi-industry association to develop, test, and promote communications solutions, initiate their standardization, and accelerate their commercial availability and global market penetration to address societal need. For more information including a complete mission statement and an up-to-date list of members please visit 5gaa.org.

DSRC/802.11p or Cellular-V2X?

The decision in front of governments and the automotive industry on V2X is between:

1. An 802.11p-based radio technology, which has been focused on development of V2V/V2I communications in ITS spectrum and relies on this ecosystem for:

  • building a new global footprint of DSRC/ITS-G5 infrastructure, specifically developed for automotive, and
  • adding another new dedicated module for DSRC/ITS-G5-based communications in addition to existing cellular modems that are already embedded in virtually every vehicle


2. A 3GPP-based Cellular-V2X implementation that takes advantage of the economies of scale of the global wireless ecosystem and is aligned with the 5G wireless technology roadmap for V2X that will allow for:

  • building  upon the investment being made by global mobile network operators that can expand to include a V2I network, in partnership with roadway operators, as a part of existing IoT investments in industrial, smart cities, and smart transportation infrastructure, and
  • integrating V2V/V2I/V2P direct communication capability into existing cellular modems that automakers are already embedding in their cars; thereby circumventing the need for a new communications module

Qualcomm Technologies’ focus remains on bringing the best technologies and products to commercialization, supported by a long-term roadmap, and in a manner that helps ensure mass adoption. Furthermore, we are committed to an automotive vision, which enables continually safer and more automated driving experiences, to which sensors including V2X are integral.

In summary, whether it is DSRC/802.11p or Cellular-V2X technologies, Qualcomm Technologies looks forward to supporting a safer, connected automotive transportation ecosystem.

[*section updated after first published]

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Opinions expressed in the content posted here are the personal opinions of the original authors, and do not necessarily reflect those of Qualcomm Incorporated or its subsidiaries ("Qualcomm"). Qualcomm products mentioned within this post are offered by Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries. The content is provided for informational purposes only and is not meant to be an endorsement or representation by Qualcomm or any other party. This site may also provide links or references to non-Qualcomm sites and resources. Qualcomm makes no representations, warranties, or other commitments whatsoever about any non-Qualcomm sites or third-party resources that may be referenced, accessible from, or linked to this site.

Nakul Duggal

Vice President, Product Management, Automotive Business Unit

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