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Is This a Quick Fix in the DSRC, C-V2X Tug-of-War?

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June 3, 2020—You've read about how world governments haven't yet settled on a standardized delivery platform for connected vehicles. The types of connective technology—Dedicated Short-Range Communication (DSRC) and Cellular Vehicle-to-Everything (C-V2X)—are each backed by their own set of automakers.

Each platform will need its own hardware capable of transmitting data, but when there's a platform debate going on, how do manufacturers know which hardware to choose?

 

Catching Up...

Here's a quick glossary of some of the terms related to this issue:

  • C-V2X: Cellular vehicle-to-everything. A network based on cellular technology for vehicles to communicate with people, other cars, infrastructure, the internet and anything else.
  • DSRC: Dedicated short-range communication is more akin to wifi and is a preceding (though different) technology to C-V2X
    • CITS: Cooperative intelligence transportation system is how Europeans identify DSRC technology.
  • 5.9GHz frequency range: 75 megahertz of this band were set aside by the FCC for vehicle-to-vehicle communication. Originally intended for DSRC, space on the band is now being considered for C-V2X use. 
  • V2X: Vehicle-to-everything

Vehicle-to-everything can include:

  • Vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V)
  • Vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I)
  • Vehicle-to-people/pedestrian (V2P)
  • Vehicle-to-cloud (V2C)

 

Israeli tech company Autotalks, which specializes in vehicle connectivity tech, has been waiting the debate and views this as detrimental to widespread adoption of connected vehicle technology.

"However, a lack of a uniform industry standard is likely to slow down deployment as auto companies will be concerned with making massive investments in a technology that might not be selected," according to an Autotalks press release.

The press release announced a dual-mode chipset that can handle both DSRC and C-V2X. Autotalks says its chipset "will allow carmakers to focus on bringing enhanced safety to US roads" without waiting for regulatory bodies to choose.

ADAPT caught up with Olivier Blanchard, a senior analyst at Futurum Research, who has been studying and following the development of connected vehicle standards. He shared some insights on the potential for a dual-mode chipset.

 

Cost

Perhaps the biggest factor is cost, which is a barrier for any new technology becoming widespread in light-duty vehicles.

Blanchard says that the potential is high for hardware that's capable of both DSRC and C-V2X, but it can't add too much to the production costs of a vehicle.

“I see the advantage of doing it. I understand why it would be appealing on paper," Blanchard says. “What I don't know is that it might be cost-prohibitive on the one hand. I guess it depends on the margins that automakers are working with.”

A chipset might come at a smaller cost when compared to other parts of a vehicle, but even a small added cost will make a huge impact for mass-produced vehicles.

 

Maintenance

Autotalks boasted that its chipset is "future-proof" in its capability. While Blanchard hasn't had a chance to look closely at that particular product, he says that this claim would be put to the test for any dual-mode chipset to work in the long term.

“Will that solution be able to keep up? Will it be as easy to upgrade it and csutomize its performance and features?" he says. "By simplifying the solution, you may be adding some complexity to the maintenance in that solution."

The chipset would need to have the bandwidth to accept future updates to not one, but two different modes of communication.

 

Tech

The third big consideration is the same as any new tech product: How will it perform in the real world?

“Having a vehicle that’s capable of doing that is def awesome," Blanchard says. “At the same time, is there a risk of the system becoming confused by switching back and forth?”

This could come into play in scenarios where a dual-mode chipset is most handy. In Europe, for example, a driver might have to travel between countries that each use a different connectivity platform. In a world in which cars rely on connected technology, that could be beneficial.

While none of these standards have been finalized yet, it will take efforts from both automakers and governments to come to a consensus and roll out tech to consumers—and ultimately repair shops.

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