Six different companies, including Nissan, Qualcomm, Ericsson, OKI, Continental, and NTT DOCOMO, INC have now announced plans to jointly conduct Cellular Vehicle-to-Everything (C-V2X) trials over the course of 2018, with the goal of showing the benefits of the technology as its defined by 3GPP Release 14 specifications. The term C-V2X is fairly self-explanatory but for those who may not know, the technologies involved will eventually allow a given vehicle the ability to send and receive information with others on the road, which will be particularly useful with autonomous vehicles. In the meantime, these trials are set up to show and test the range, latency, and reliability of C-V2X in the 5GHz band of the spectrum. Beyond that, the group hopes to demonstrate the benefits of network-based communications using LTE-A and validate both network types for C-V2X use. Finally, it will give the companies involved in the trial the opportunity to provide feedback to 3GPP so that adjustments to standards can be made if needed.
With regard to the technology itself, and as alluded to above, Qualcomm says C-V2X provides "non-line-of-sight" awareness thanks to its cloud capabilities. It is meant to complement the onboard array of radar, lidar, and camera sensors already commonly being used to guide self-driving vehicles. Although it is built on cellular technologies, C-V2X doesn't rely on cellular networks - which may represent a safety issue if that network were to go down or to be hacked - instead relying on shorter range transmissions. Use cases for the cellular technology in question will include tests of Vehicle-to-Vehicle, Vehicle-to-Infrastructure, and Vehicle-to-Pedestrian (V2P) communications. The first two use cases are relatively straightforward, but V2P may require some explanation. In addition to giving the vehicle the ability to talk with other vehicles, the roadway, and traffic lights, C-V2X could also connect with pedestrians through the technologies they are carrying with them. An example of how that might be useful can be illustrated with a scenario where a pedestrian with a smartphone in their pocket walks out into the road from behind another object. Through V2P, a smart car's systems or an A.I.-based driver could feasibly recognize the situation in advance to the pedestrian entering the roadway and begin applying the brakes earlier, preventing an accident. Meanwhile, since cellular networks could still be used to access the cloud for various purposes under most circumstances, tests will also be performed Vehicle-to-Network.
With regard to the companies themselves, each will, of course, be playing to its individual strengths as it pertains to the task at hand. Nissan will provide the vehicles for testing and will also be responsible for developing test scenarios, as well as setting performance indicators for validation or failure - just as it might if it were testing any of its vehicles for production. Meanwhile, Qualcomm's own reference design, based on its 9150 C-V2X chipsets, will be used by Continental to build out the connected car systems for integration into the cars. OKI will be responsible for the infrastructure-related side of communications, while Ericsson's experience with wide-area networks will be taken advantage of for Network testing. Finally, NTT DOCOMO will provide the network to be used for that test.