Nov 9, 2020
Qualcomm products mentioned within this post are offered by Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries.
Vehicles communicating with other vehicles and their surroundings to improve safety and traffic efficiency is an intuitive concept, yet it’s only now starting to enter the market and public discussion. The good news is that C-V2X adoption is indeed accelerating rapidly across the globe. Automakers are committing to C-V2X technology, infrastructure deployments are increasing, and numerous aftermarket companies are offering vehicle retrofits using reliable, high-performing wireless communications.
Fueling our customers with innovative C-V2X technology
In 2017, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. introduced the Qualcomm MDM9150 the first commercial C-V2X solution based on 3GPP Release 14 specifications for direct communication operation in the 5.9 GHz ITS spectrum. Today, this chipset is globally available and is an important component in many roadside infrastructure and onboard vehicular products. In addition, it has been extensively used to showcase the fundamental benefits of C-V2X, supporting SAE and ETSI ITS protocols and being demonstrated to support numerous vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) applications.
Listening intently to customers, Qualcomm Technologies concluded that C-V2X is a technology critical to the future of vehicular communications. That’s why we have integrated C-V2X capabilities, along with multifrequency advanced GNSS positioning, into our mainstream telematics chipset portfolio to offer concurrent operations of both direct and network communications in the Qualcomm Snapdragon Automotive 4G Platform and the Snapdragon Automotive 5G Platform. This was an expected yet significant achievement because it helps ensure that automakers have a clear path to the deployment of C-V2X as they refresh their established telematics programs with the latest in cellular capability. Complementing these advanced modems is the Qualcomm SA2150P applications processor that supports both telematics and V2X functionality — including the ITS stack and Elliptic Curve Digital Signature Algorithm (ECDSA) verifications (2500 messages/sec) — and is pre-integrated with the Aerolink security services solution.
The reason for mentioning these products is to highlight the different ecosystems involved in C-V2X commercialization, from the traditional telematics supply chain to the outfitting of roadside infrastructure. Seven companies have publicly announced they are offering modules based on these chipsets: Gosuncn, LG Innotek, Neoway, Quectel, SimCOM, WNC and ZTE. Companies offering products that use these C-V2X modules include Applied Information, Chemtronics, Cohda Wireless, Commsignia, Danlaw, Ficosa, Genvict, iSmartWays Technology, Kapsch TrafficCom, Lacroix City, Nebula Link, Neusoft, Savari, SWARCO, and more. These companies have primarily introduced Roadside Units (RSUs) and aftermarket On-Board Units (OBUs), and complement automotive suppliers that provide factory-fit telematics control unit (TCU) solutions with integrated C-V2X.
RSU solutions are offered as C-V2X-only as well as dual-radio C-V2X and DSRC, giving a range of solutions for different markets. More advanced RSUs are also being developed, including Smart RSUs that have integrated detection capability (camera/radar) plus combined infrastructure that offers valuable RSU and small cell functionality. This fulfills a critical aspect of 4G and 5G infrastructure expansion and densification — as well as a business need — that serves both road operator and network operators. Given that both mobile network operators and road operators have wireless infrastructure needs, deployments that can utilize a single device that serves both helps create new business models to explore and pursue.
Driving safety for all: V2V and V2I applications and use cases
Now that we have a view of the products commercially available and those on the horizon, we shift to the critical applications that are the driving force behind C-V2X adoption. There are two buckets: vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure.
V2V initially is focused on collision avoidance safety benefits and includes use cases such as:
- Forward Collision Warning
- Emergency Electronic Brake Lights
- Do Not Pass Warning
- Left Turn Assist
- Intersection Movement Assist
- Blind Spot Warning/Lane Change Warning
- Emergency Vehicle Alert
These use cases largely come together when enough vehicles have been outfitted with C-V2X, so this will likely take several years to fully realize.
The more immediate V2X opportunities come from V2I use cases which can bear fruit as soon as a single C-V2X-equipped vehicle can interact with roadside infrastructure. This will support use cases such as:
- Traffic Signal Preemption
- Transit Priority
- Red Light Violation Warning
- Signal Phase and Timing (SPaT)/Map information
- Work Zone Warning, School Zone Warning
- Speed Limit Warning: Reduced Speed Zone Warning, Curve Speed Warning
- Spot Weather Information Warning
- Stop Sign Gap Assist
- Stop Sign Violation Warning
- Railroad Crossing Violation Warning
- Oversize Vehicle Warning
For specialty vehicles in municipal fleets, Traffic Signal Preemption and Transit Priority are two compelling use cases that are being adopted. Going into each of these use cases helps explain how rationale for early deployment of roadside infrastructure makes sense for their applications and lays the foundation for other equipped vehicles to interact with the same roadside infrastructure for the other applications highlighted above.
For instance, a full “lights and siren emergency” is a very intense time for first responders as well as other road users, especially at a traffic signal-controlled intersection. Today’s legacy system, including infrared (IR), has helped emergency vehicles navigate our roadways, but it requires line-of-sight for communications. It also only operates when emergency vehicles are in proximity to traffic signals. This means less warning time for other motorists to allow the emergency vehicle through the intersection. However, using C-V2X for V2I communications to trigger Traffic Signal Preemption can allow for more advanced planning of traffic signal timing, making signal changes less abrupt for other motorists when an emergency vehicle approaches a traffic signal-controlled intersection, and allowing faster emergency vehicle pass through, which can ultimately improve outcomes of emergencies. Combining C-V2X direct communication emanating from emergency vehicles with the larger cellular network (vehicle-to-network) further improves traffic management to see that intersections are cleared for swift passage in both anticipation of the vehicle’s approach and arrival.
Two additional benefits of C-V2X include: 1) feedback from the traffic signal controller to the emergency vehicle confirming the status of the signal controller, and 2) the ability of the emergency vehicle to send alerts to other vehicles (V2V) warning of its approach. We often hear an emergency vehicle before we can conclude if we are in its path, so incorporating information on its arrival and overlaying it onto a digital map can help increase awareness by other road users.
Transit Priority, which offers both an early green light as well as extending a green phase, can help busses and other designated vehicles maintain their schedule by allowing them to queue jump (that is, enter the traffic flow without having to wait in a line of vehicles) such as metered freeway onramps and experience efficient passage through intersections. Transit Priority can help cities promote the use of public transit by offering more predictability and adherence to published schedules. Transit Priority can also reduce idle times of specialty trucks such as garbage trucks and armored vehicles which helps reduce emissions, and can help snowplows maintain momentum as they clear roads. Just as there are lifesaving qualities to improving Traffic Signal Preemption for emergency vehicles, there are also economic and sustainability (think greenhouse gas emission reduction) attributes to Transit Priority.
Another type of priority user can be freight transportation, utilizing Freight Signal Priority to extend the green phase so that heavy freight trucks can move through a traffic signal without stopping. This is especially valuable in uphill and downhill intersections, where it can be difficult for trucks to accelerate from, and brake for, a red light, respectively. Freight Signal Priority can also help improve safety by reducing truck-related collisions at intersections, reduce traffic congestion due to a slowly accelerating trucks, reduce stop-and-go conditions that contribute to wear and tear on roads and pollution, and cumulatively help ensure a more predictable movement of goods. In addition to commercial benefits, Freight Signal Priority could offer revenue-generation opportunities as one expands such offerings to corridors. Both use cases require initial integration of an aftermarket OBU and installation of RSUs on specific signal controllers along designated corridors and can be expanded as budgets permit.
Now consider the critical Red Light Violation Warning and SPaT/Map capability provided by infrastructure at an instrumented, signalized intersection when it interacts with a connected vehicle. An application factoring in vehicle speed and acceleration profile, distance to the intersection, and SPaT/Map and intersection geometry information can help determine if the approaching vehicle will enter the intersection in violation of a traffic signal. If so, the application can then alert the driver when the vehicle may violate a red light, therefore helping reduce red-light running and collisions at signalized intersections. This alert/warning can be shared not only with drivers of offending vehicles, but also other drivers in the area.
Similar to the Red Light Violation Warning, other alerts/warnings such as Work Zone Warning, School Zone Warning, Speed Limit Warnings (e.g., Reduced Speed Zone Warning and Curve Speed Warning), and Spot Weather Information Warning can improve safety across the board for many drivers, pedestrians, cyclists, and work crews.
As it relates to non-signalized traffic intersections, the Stop Sign Gap Assist safety application can support vehicles entering an intersection whereby only the minor road has posted stop signs. The drivers on a minor road stopped at an intersection can understand the state of activities (major road, minor road, and median sensors) associated with that intersection by receiving a warning. Similar to the Red Light Violation Warning, the Stop Sign Violation Warning can alert the driver when the vehicle may violate a stop sign, therefore helping reduce collisions at such intersections. This alert/warning can be shared not only with drivers of offending vehicles but also other drivers in the area.
The Railroad Crossing Violation Warning is like the Red Light Violation Warning and can be used to avert a devastating collision, while the Oversize Vehicle Warning can help avert impact with bridges, overpasses, or tunnels.
Finally, once SPaT/Map is employed at a signalized intersection, other use cases emerge. Imagine how automated vehicles, which are loaded with sensors — many of which are line-of-sight visual sensors including radar, LiDAR and cameras — can benefit further by receiving SPaT/Map so they are able to travel though intersections without unexpected acceleration/braking and provide a more pleasant riding experience. SPaT/Map information also benefits larger fleets as it can provide red light-time-to-go foresight as well as eco approach and departure — i.e., information to drivers about traffic signal timing, allowing drivers to adapt their speed so they pass the signal on green or decrease speed to a stop in the most eco-friendly way — to ensure efficient movement through signalized traffic intersections.
Looking at the road ahead, C-V2X enabled V2I use cases are coming
With C-V2X technology and products commercially available, and with vetted use cases understood, safety and traffic efficiency use cases are now being deployed. With interest in all V2X use cases, we needed to wait for V2V to one day enhance vehicles with additional collision avoidance capability. Instead, we are realizing near-term benefits from valuable V2I use cases that come as soon as a single intersection and a single vehicle are enabled, just by installing an RSU and retrofitting a vehicle with an aftermarket OBU. C-V2X is a valuable technology that is on a trajectory to improve vehicular safety and traffic efficiency. Looking forward, C-V2X has a planned evolution to 5G-V2X and augment our current set of use cases to support cooperative driving and sensor sharing.