Qualcomm: ‘Steadfast’ supporter of DSRC sees C-V2X providing clear path forward

Qualcomm C-V2X
Qualcomm has demonstrated how C-V2X can be used to improve road safety.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says in its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for mandating Vehicle to Vehicle (V2V) communications that cellular networks can’t support V2V due to dead spots and security risks, but Qualcomm says that's not so.

To be clear, Qualcomm supports Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC) as a useful technology—and it’s got second-generation 802.11p DSRC chips to prove it. “But the NPRM’s definition of interoperability picks DSRC as the de facto technology winner,” the company said in comments to the NHTSA that were due April 13. “We believe there should be an objective evaluation based on realistic deployment models that assess variations of a mandate and market penetration of 4G LTE and 5G devices that include C-V2X capabilities.”

The NHTSA is considering a proposal that would require V2V communication to use DSRC devices to transmit messages about a vehicle’s speed, heading, braking status and more to surrounding vehicles, as well as to receive comparable information from surrounding vehicles. But a final decision has yet to be made, and numerous stakeholders in the wireless industry want the government to refrain from mandating DSRC as 5G and cellular-based technologies are emerging to do what they consider a better job.

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Qualcomm is in a somewhat unique position to comment because it is so entrenched in DSRC, yet it’s been rallying for Cellular Vehicle-to-everything (C-V2X) for quite some time. Qualcomm’s chips were in the DSRC equipment used by the Crash Avoidance Metrics Partnership (CAMP) and Department of Transportation (DoT) in safety pilot driver clinics and model deployment work, and its chipsets will be used in upcoming trials around the world to demonstrate the viability of using cellular direct communications connectivity for V2V safety applications.

It’s also got a deep history in the transportation industry, having developed its Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) in the late 1980s with the Omnitracs two-way satellite communication system for the trucking industry. Qualcomm also says that its 802.11-based DSRC solutions inspired some of the very first research on the topic.

Qualcomm continues to invest in advancing DSRC, offering 802.11p chipsets for integration into DSRC equipment as well as a Connected Car Reference Platform that includes DSRC along with 3G/4G LTE, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity.

In addition, the company says that several important DSRC pilots conducted to date have used equipment containing its chipsets, including the Safety Pilot Model Deployment in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Qualcomm also worked with Honda R&D America to demonstrate the safety benefits of Vehicle to Pedestrian (V2P) technology where DSRC was integrated into a smartphone, alerting both driver and pedestrian when the pedestrian approaches the moving vehicle but remains outside the driver’s line of sight.

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At the same time, Qualcomm says cellular-based direct communications offer a clear path ahead for the automotive ecosystem, pointing out that the C-V2X technology specification in 3GPP Release 14 defines two transmission modes that enable a range of V2X use cases.

Importantly, C-V2X builds on the extensive R&D and pilot deployments that have been conducted using DSRC by leveraging certain engineering and test procedures, the company says. C-V2X is also highly secure and has a roadmap that is backward-compatible.

C-V2X based on 3GPP Release 15 will incorporate 5G features, including much higher throughput, wideband carrier support, ultra-low latency and high reliability for advanced use cases supporting increased driver awareness, cooperative driving/collision avoidance, robust sensor data sharing and autonomous driving, according to the company.

Qualcomm is working with LG Electronics to facilitate testing and adoption of 5G and C-V2X communications in vehicles, with trials to be conducted during the first half of 2018. Qualcomm also is working closely with automotive OEMs in the U.S. and plans to conduct C-V2V safety objective tests and trials within a year.

Earlier this year, the company showed a C-V2X Trial Platform, based on 3GPP Release 14, that provided driving safety in three use cases: a disabled car after a blind curve, a do-not-pass warning and road hazard warnings involving varying road conditions leveraging both V2V and V2I capabilities.