Qualcomm, Ford and Panasonic mark first U.S. C-V2X deployment in Colorado

Colorado road
The C-V2X deployment will occur first in Denver and then move to select areas along the I-70 corridor later in the year. (Pixabay)

Qualcomm Technologies is teaming with Panasonic and Ford Motor Company to deploy Cellular Vehicle-to-Everything (C-V2X) technologies in Colorado, marking the first U.S. deployment of C-V2X technology.

The participants plan to assess C-V2X capabilities this summer on select roadways throughout Panasonic’s CityNOW headquarters in Denver, which will be followed by deployment in select areas along the I-70 corridor later in the year. The project is an extension of a previously announced partnership between the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) and Panasonic.

Officials told the FCC (PDF) earlier this year that CDOT is making a $70 million investment in connected vehicles via its partnership with Panasonic and other partners, getting V2X information on both Dedicated Short Range Communication (DSRC) and cellular platforms. Panasonic has said that DSRC provides a key foundation for interoperability of V2X messages and a pathway for deployment of other RF technologies, such as LTE-V2X and 5G-V2X.

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Amy Ford, chief of advanced mobility for CDOT, told FierceWirelessTech that the state is technology agnostic when it comes to connected vehicles, confirming that it’s using both DSRC and C-V2X.

“We want to create an environment that allows for both to work. Wherever the market ends up going for connected vehicles, we have one priority and it’s to deploy connected vehicle environments now to move it toward what we think will be significant improvement in safety on our roadways,” she said.

In the U.S., there’s been fragmentation among auto makers, some of which support DSRC and others that are on the C-V2X bandwagon. In January, Ford and Qualcomm announced a big commitment to C-V2X—as opposed to DSRC—and said they would be doing field trials this year in San Diego and Michigan.  

The state of Colorado is aggressively pursuing technology solutions because it has a lot of challenges, including 650 traffic fatalities last year—a number that is trending up—as well as significant mobility issues. “We’re willing to put ourselves on the forefront of how we move this technology into deployment, not just testing, but how do we move it into deployment,” she said. CDOT is currently deploying roadside DSRC units in the I-70 Mountain Corridor.

With Panasonic, it’s basically “building the brain” to handle the mounds of data that’s going to be shared between vehicles and infrastructure. As C-V2X comes further into play as another mode to deliver connected vehicles, it’s serving as a test hub for that, she said.

RELATED: Panasonic urges FCC to protect 5.9 GHz for V2X

Panasonic is working in Colorado with Kapsch TrafficCom, which is providing roadside units. Ficosa is providing C-V2X onboard units, and the transit authority’s existing fleet of Ford utility vehicles will be equipped with C-V2X devices using Ficosa’s CarCom platform to enable Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) and Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) direct communications. Panasonic will provide the platform to collect and disseminate C-V2X data such that roadway operators will get improved situational awareness and a new ability to send safety-critical information directly to vehicles.

RELATED: Sharing in 5.9 GHz band gets renewed focus, but automakers still hitched to DSRC

In a press release, Qualcomm, which is supplying the 9150 C-V2X chipset solution, explained that C-V2X is designed to be globally compatible with 5G and complement other Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) sensors, such as cameras, radar and LiDAR. C-V2X also is designed to offer low-latency without the involvement of a cellular network or cellular network subscription by operating on designated 5.9 GHz ITS spectrum. The company said recent field tests show more than twice the range and improved reliability compared to 802.11p radio technology.

According to Qualcomm, C-V2X is well-positioned to be the global solution for V2X communications, supporting advancements in wireless communication and new automotive applications that are necessary for improvements in safety, autonomous driving and traffic efficiency. Global C-V2X field validations with car manufacturers, automotive ecosystem participants, and in cooperation with regional governments, are underway in Germany, France, Korea, China, Japan, and the U.S., with industry deployment expected to take place as early as 2020.

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