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The Connected Vehicle Data Delivery Debate

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Feb. 18, 2020—The connected car has already arrived in some respects, but the technology is poised to make a big leap in the coming years. The industry is expected to produce capabilities for vehicles to communicate with one another. Crashes could be broadcasted to divert incoming traffic. All of this could support the tech behind autonomous vehicles, meaning passengers might be doing more internet browsing than driving while in transit.

That much is well-known to automotive followers. What may not be known is the tug-of-war over the standard of delivery for those connections. The choice will dictate huge investments in tech by OEMs and other manufacturers.

Olivier Blanchard, a senior analyst at Futurum Research, has been tracking the topic. His post on on the Futurum site illustrates the debate between the potential limits of an existing tech and the possibilities of an emerging one. ADAPT spoke with Blanchard to get a summary.


Alphabet Soup

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 the 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)


Tech Talk

On one side is a connectivity technology called dedicated short-range communication, or DSRC. It’s been around for a while and, for a time, promised to deliver the connected vehicle idea.

“It was a good system for it's time. Very advanced, very secure,” Blanchard says. “The idea was to be able to connect vehicles to each other and to some roadside antennas as well, and communicate, for instance, the locations of other vehicles.”

Some automakers, like Volkswagen, General Motors and Toyota, jumped into the DSRC tech and became invested in its development.

As so often happens in tech, a disruption happened.

C-V2X, based on the cellular network, emerged as a potentially better option. It’s able to carry vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure connectivity. And when paired with 5G networks that are coming to market, the potential for a more powerful, quicker connectivity platform is becoming clearer.

C-V2X is considered the better platform to grow into for autonomous technology while being able to perform other connectivity duties.

“You need to have a solution that addresses all these requirements,” Blanchard says. “And unfortunately, DSRC wasn’t as capable of handling that kind of load as C-V2X.”


Between Two Techs

Blanchard says that industry and government regulators have been stuck between committing to an existing technology (DSRC) or looking toward a newer but potentially more powerful connectivity platform. 

Both the European Union and the U.S. regulators are being lobbied on the matter. The U.S. Federal Communications Commission is considering a move to designate separate frequency space for DSRC and C-V2X. Automakers are lobbying on both sides, with VW, Toyota and GM leaning toward DSRC and Ford among those favoring C-V2X.

The leanings of OEMs are important to watch, Blanchard says, because the companies could lead the way in developing the infrastructure that supports connected vehicles.

“Just a smart road infrastructure itself is a huge opportunity for the OEMs and tech companies,” he says. “The confluence of 5G and smart vehicles or connected vehicles is massive.”

So, with all the talk of data protection among connected vehicles, be sure to keep an eye on the debate over how that data will be transmitted.

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