Qualcomm to kick off C-V2X trials with AT&T, Nokia and Ford

Qualcomm C-V2X (Qualcomm)
Testing will support direct C-V2X communications operating in the 5.9 GHz ITS spectrum. (Qualcomm)

Qualcomm Technologies announced that it is working with several players, including AT&T, Ford and Nokia, to kick off what’s believed to be the first announced Cellular V2X (C-V2X) trials in the U.S.

The goal is to demonstrate the potential of C-V2X technologies, including support for improved automotive safety, automated driving and traffic efficiency.

Qualcomm previously disclosed that it was working on C-V2X trials in Germany with Audi and Ericsson, as well as in France with PSA, Orange and Ericsson. But this is the first time it’s talking publicly about U.S. trials of this nature.

The company says the U.S. trials will also be aimed at demonstrating to automakers and road operators the anticipated cost-efficient benefits associated with embedded cellular technology in vehicles and synergies between the deployment of cellular base stations and roadside infrastructure. The trials will take place at Qualcomm’s home base in the San Diego area.

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Specifically, the initial testing phase for the C-V2X trial is expected to begin later this year and will take place in the San Diego Regional Proving Ground with the support of the San Diego Association of Governments, Caltrans, the city of Chula Vista, and intelligent transportation solutions (ITS) provider McCain. Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Transportation designated the San Diego region as one of 10 automated vehicle proving grounds.

Ford will install C-V2X platforms in vehicles and use the Qualcomm 9150 C-V2X solution to facilitate direct communications, complemented by AT&T’s 4G LTE network communications and ITS platform that takes advantage of wireless base stations and multiaccess edge computing technology from Nokia. McCain will be facilitating the integration with existing and emerging traffic signal control infrastructure.

“The advancement of cellular technology for C-V2X applications is very encouraging,” said Don Butler, executive director of connected vehicle and services for Ford Motor Company, in a press release. “This technology promises to meet, and in some cases, exceed the performance requirements of vehicle communication being proposed by relevant government agencies while leveraging existing in-vehicle connectivity frameworks. C-V2X provides a reassuring path to technology advancements necessary to support emerging developments in autonomy, automated driving, and mobility. We are keen to investigate all aspects of this opportunity and support cross industry efforts that make that possible.”

“Qualcomm Technologies is working towards solutions designed for tomorrow’s safer and autonomous vehicles, not only by contributing and evolving C-V2X technology, but also by designing technological breakthroughs in other key areas such as 4G and 5G, precise positioning, machine learning, and computer vision,” said Nakul Duggal, vice president of product management, automotive for Qualcomm Technologies, in the release. “We are pleased to work with industry and government leaders, in our hometown, testing and refining the technologies for the more connected, automated vehicle of tomorrow and advanced cellular infrastructure which includes small cells and roadside units.”

The demonstration is important as well in that a lot of automakers are still aiming to use Dedicated Short-Range Communications for collision avoidance, though work in that area has been painstakingly slow—so slow that FCC commissioners have proposed revisiting the use of spectrum dedicated for DSRC. So far, only Cadillac has introduced V2V communications based on DSRC in 2017 interim model year cars.

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Interestingly, Qualcomm has supported both IEEE 802.11p-based products for DSRC and the 3GPP Cellular V2X technology that is part of these trials. Cellular industry advocates say C-V2X offers improved reliability and other capabilities that make it a better choice.