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Qualcomm Launches C-V2X Trials in Japan 

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by Aaron Mack in Uncategorized
January 24, 2018

On the heels of an October press release in which Qualcomm Technologies announced a partnership with AT&T, Ford and Nokia to test Cellular Vehicle-to-Everything (C-V2X) technology in the U.S. this year, the company is at it again. This time, it’s gearing up for trials in Japan, with partners Continental, Ericsson, Nissan, NTT DOCOMO and OKI.

Why does that matter, you ask?

Remember when you were driving to the supermarket last week and that Prius swerved into your lane and nearly clipped you? Or that time your normal route to work took an extra half-an-hour because of an accident a mile upstream? Connected vehicles—made possible by the type of wireless communications technology Qualcomm and its partners are ambitiously testing around the globe—could save you such detriments in the future. How? By endowing vehicles and infrastructure with data-sharing capabilities—i.e., the ability to communicate.

C-V2X enables vehicles to relay basic safety-driven messages to other vehicles (this is where I am, this is how fast I am going, and this is where I will be in a few milliseconds). It also enables infrastructure to receive and transmit similar information (there are cars on the road here and here, and they are going this fast; there’s an accident two-miles ahead, you should probably re-route). Alone, connected vehicles hold the promise of enhancing the safety and efficiency of vehicle transportation; but as an added bonus, their technology will also make it easier for tomorrow’s autonomous vehicles to see and interact with the world.

Qualcomm’s tests are intended not only to show what C-V2X can do, but that it’s safe, too.

For years, the Federal Government and other stakeholders have been developing, testing and promoting a different form of communications technology to power connected vehicle communications: Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC).

DSRC has been championed as the fastest, most reliable way for vehicles to communicate. It sends wireless messages to other vehicles in a millisecond over the 5.9 GHz bandwidth, which has been set-aside by the Federal Government for intelligent transportation systems applications.

In the past, DSRC’s main competitor was cellular connectivity (e.g., using 4G to let vehicles talk to each other). But cellular has never been considered quite as reliable. For one, 4G is a bit slower than DSRC—which you don’t want when a Prius is swerving into your lane. But, thanks to Qualcomm, C-V2X is giving DSRC a run for its money, and doing some things DSRC can’t do.

Qualcomm’s latest C-V2X chipset can send messages using DSRC. But it can also transfer data over 4G—and later, 5G. The benefit? Not only can your car relay basic safety messages as fast as you need it to, it can also do things like stream data from the cloud, receive messages from infrastructure miles away or around a mountain (whereas DSRC works best over short distances and in straight lines), or broadcast data to local transportation management centers.

In other words, C-V2X will take your connected vehicle to a whole new level, allowing it to interact not only with other vehicles, but the world around it.

Yet, given the longstanding support for DSRC, Qualcomm and partners have the burden of proof to show that C-V2X can do everything DSRC can and more; hence the globetrotting tests we’ll see in 2018. If successful, the Federal Government may even pass legislation allowing C-V2X to be the communication method of choice for future CVs. And this would be big for the vehicle industry: top automakers are already poised to install Qualcomm’s C-V2X chips in their next-gen lineup. If not, DSRC might become the mandated standard.

Whether C-V2X will live up to the standards of the Federal Government is too early to tell. But in any case, 2018 should be fun to watch.

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