Cisco, automakers to test 'listen, detect and avoid' protocol for auto safety in 5.9 GHz band

Cisco Systems, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and the Association of Global Automakers are preparing to test the "listen, detect and avoid" protocol in the dedicated short range communications (DSRC) 5.9 GHz band, according to an FCC filing.

Through the tests, the parties want to provide the FCC with empirical evidence to determine whether the technology has the technical capability to foster unlicensed Wi-Fi use of the 5.9 GHz band without causing interference to incumbent DSRC operations.

The tests are developmental in nature and designed to demonstrate and measure a Cisco proposal in the presence of DSRC transmitters and to ensure the technology operates as intended. Testing will begin in a laboratory setting in the coming weeks and then advance to field tests, with the expectation that the initial round of feasibility testing will be completed no later than the end of this calendar year, according to the filing.

General Motors has committed to deploying DSRC vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) technology in its Cadillac CTS vehicles for Model Year 2017, which are expected to be offered for sale in 2016, the filing notes.

In 1999, the FCC allocated 75 megahertz of spectrum in the 5.9 GHz band for DSRC, which is an Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) technology that enables direct V2V and vehicle to/from-infrastructure (V2I) communications. In recent years, a consortium of automakers, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), has conducted research directed at deployment of DSRC systems.

The FCC issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in early 2013 that proposed adding 195 megahertz of additional 5 GHz spectrum for use by unlicensed devices such as 802.11. It also proposed a change that would allow the band allocated to DSRC to be shared with unlicensed devices such as 802.11.

Earlier this year, a group of U.S. lawmakers reintroduced the Wi-Fi Innovation Act, which directs the FCC to "move swiftly" in seeking comments and conducting tests to assess the feasibility of opening the 5850-5925 MHz band to unlicensed use. FCC Commissioners Michael O'Rielly and Jessica Rosenworcel have come out in support of exploring whether unlicensed services could operate in the U-NII-4 band without causing harmful interference to DSRC.

During a panel discussion last year focusing on smart cities, Hilary Cain, director of technology and innovative policy at Toyota, said the United States is behind other nations when it comes to roadside infrastructure for things like V2I communications. In Japan, there's been a very strong commitment from the government to deploy this type of infrastructure. Vehicle-to-infrastructure technology was deployed there in 2009, she said.  

From a marketing or commercialization standpoint, it makes sense to have vehicle-to-infrastructure communication first rather than vehicle-to-vehicle because so few cars are equipped for the latter, she said. If there's infrastructure equipped to exchange information with the vehicle, the benefits are immediate.

For more:
- see this Association of Global Automakers filing

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