LTE-V2X is ready to roll, says Ford, as Qualcomm releases chips, Vodafone runs tests, and market preps for 5G NR in 2022
LTE-based cellular vehicle-to-everything (C-V2X) technology will launch in earnest in the next months, as new automotive chipsets and platforms are released. The first vehicles to feature 5G-based C-V2X, enabling autonomous control of critical driving functions, will come off the production line in 2022, said Ford.
Don Butler, executive director of connected vehicles and services at Ford, commented: “C-V2X is now ready to roll. At Ford, we will begin to deploy this technology in all new models launching in the US starting in 2022.”
5G enables bandwidths of up to 10 gigabits per second, allowing for applications like real-time video streaming, and near real-time latencies for traffic communications. C-V2X combines direct and network-based communication between vehicles, infrastructure and vulnerable road users.
Direct C-V2X communications will be available later this year, in the form of LTE-V2X, the initial version of C-V2X, enabling vehicles to communicate with each other and their surroundings.
Mass production of C-V2X chips including direct communication from several suppliers is ongoing, said the 5GAA, and multiple radio vendors are integrating these chips into their automotive radio offerings. Notably, Qualcomm announced at MWC 2019 in Barcelona Snapdragon-based 4G and 5G automotive platforms, integrating C-V2X direct communications (see below).
5GAA said 2019 is the year when C-V2X direct communications will be commercially available across the globe. Full interoperability testing on C-V2X applications is ongoing among its members. The first mass-deployment in vehicles on the roads is anticipated in China in 2020, followed by other regions, as regulations allow.
But C-V2X provides an upgrade path to 5G NR for direct and network communication, and NR-V2X will enable autonomous driving vehicles by using 5G with ultra-reliable low-latency communications (URLLC) and improved direct short-range communications.
Maxime Flament, chief technology officer at 5GAA, said: “The development of the NR-V2X standard is due for completion by the end of 2019; eventually hitting the road in 2023. This will enable a new generation of use cases for connected automated vehicles.”
Cellular vehicle-to-everything (C-V2X) technology was out in force at Mobile World Congress (MWC) this week. Besides the showcase from Telefónica and SEAT this week, in concert with Ericsson and Ficosa, where a 5G test-system was used on the streets of Barcelona to demonstrate the safety and entertainment capabilities of C-V2X, the show was marked by its focus on cars and driving tech.
Vodafone and Continental revealed the first results of a road safety collaboration started a year ago, claiming the combination of 5G, C-V2X, and edge computing will bring road accidents down. They are testing in “real-world” lab conditions at Vodafone’s 5G Mobility Lab in Aldenhoven, Germany, with a view to deploying commercial at “the beginning of the 2020s”.
Despite lower traffic fatalities, as a result of better safety and assistance systems, the number of road accidents is rising. A quarter of traffic fatalities in Germany in 2017 were cyclists and pedestrians. More than 30 cyclists died in the because turning trucks or buses crossed their paths.
Johann Hiebl, head of the Continental’s “body-and-security and infotainment-and-connectivity” business units, commented: “5G, C-V2X and mobile edge computing, allow a large number of road users to communicate with each other at the same time, bringing us much closer to our goal. Together with Vodafone, we can bring about a revolution in road safety.”
Hannes Ametsreiter, chief executive of Vodafone in Germany, said: “There could be cars on our streets that offer all road users more safety from as early as the beginning of the 2020s. Cars will become smartphones on wheels, with sensors and cameras that communicate in real time via mobile communications, warn of dangers and protect us.”
One application the pair is looking at is for a digital safety-shield. Road users are equipped with a communications module; for cyclists and pedestrians this is a smartphone, for cars a V2X module. They exchange their position and direction of travel via a mobile network base station. If the system detects their paths crossing, it issues a warning.
On-vehicle cameras and network AI, at the mobile edge, combine to detect other incidents, such as a child running into the road or a person lying on the street. The data generated requires transmission in the millisecond range, achieved by combining 5G technology and mobile edge computing. Small 5G data centres with extremely short access times near to cell towers allow analysis in near real-time.
The Vodafone/Continental test system has also been using camera footage from a vehicle in front to alert the following vehicles of oncoming traffic, before they pull out. In Barcelona, they have also shown a traffic jam warning system. Vehicles approaching the end of a traffic jam are notified of the obstacle long before they reach it.
Meanwhile, chip maker Qualcomm revealed Snapdragon-based 4G and 5G automotive platform, integrating C-V2X direct communications, high-precision multi-frequency global navigation satellite system (HP-GNSS) and RF front-end (RFFE) functionalities to support operators across key spectrum bands globally.
The two platforms provide support for dual SIM dual active (DSDA) technology, precise positioning for lane level navigation, multi-gigabit cloud connectivity, vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-roadside infrastructure (V2I) communications, and high-bandwidth low-latency teleoperations support.
Each of these is required for traffic safety systems, platooning, autonomous and always-connected driving. The new Snapdragon automotive 4G and 5G platforms are expected to sample later this year and are planned for production vehicles in 2021. Geely said it will launch mass-produced C-V2X vehicles in China with Qualcomm in 2021.
The 5GAA also drew attention to other C-V2X tests and launches. Germany-based operator Deutsche Telekom is working with Skoda, owned by Volkswagen, to test C-V2X in the Czech Republic, as part of the European C-Roads project
At MWC, Rohde & Schwarz announced and showed a collaboration with automotive electronics firm Vector on a C-V2X test solution to verify safety-critical V2X scenarios. The companies’ integrated test platform is showcased for the first time at Mobile World Congress.
Thierry Klein, vice chair of 5GAA and head of Nokia Bell Labs’ “disruptive innovation programme”, commented: “These end-to-end integrated solutions bring enhanced safety, sustainability, and convenience to all road users. 5GAA is very excited to be pioneering the revolution towards a smarter and more connected mobility world.”