5G and C-2VX: the Answer to the Connected Car Future




Mercedes visualization of the benefit that connected cars can bring, with car-to-x communication only set to improve thanks to 5G connectivity.

A recent study by P&S Market Research consultancy predicts that by 2021, there will be 94 million new cars, trucks and buses plugged into each other thanks to the business and growth opportunities around 5G connections and mobility.

The network’s key feature is cellular vehicle-to-everything (C-V2X) communications, intended to bring direct communications between vehicles and other smart objects in urban environments.

The introduction of electronics in vehicles comes hand in hand with the advances in OEM and supplier R&D being readied to take advantage of the resounding benefits of C-2VX. So, how will 5G connection technologies bring high-speed vehicle communication and boost vehicle connectivity?

For about 10 years, the growth of connectivity needs involving companies in fields as diverse as artificial intelligence, telecommunications, and navigation systems has been exponential. And this has required – and will continue to requite – a sustained effort from OEMs and suppliers to maintain pace with demand.

That’s because the benefits of 5G for global car users are significant. Connectivity has the potential to allow accident-free, stress-free and emission-free driving, and this translates into greater road safety, environmental improvement – mainly in cities – and making life easier and more time-efficient for the driver.

5G Capabilities for Cars

Nakul Duggal, senior VP of product management at Qualcomm, adds “I don’t think 5G needs much of a push.” For him, the advantages are obvious, critically in terms of speed and compared to 4G connections: 5G allows peak download speeds of 4.5 gigabits per second as well as average data transmission speeds of about 1.4 gigabits per second. “That’s quick enough to download a two-hour movie in about 17 seconds, versus about 6 minutes for a current 4G connection,” added Duggal.

The key feature of 5G for the automotive market is the C-V2X communications, intended to bring direct communications between cars and other smart objects, can send messages twice as far and twice as fast as the older DSRC protocol, due to the improved codecs and error correction.

Reliability is another highlight because, when it comes to vehicle-to-vehicle communications, everything is measured in milliseconds. Dr Johannes Springer, lead automotive@5G at Deutsche Telekom/T-Systems International, will take part in Automotive IQ’s Automotive Intelligent Networks and Connectivity Conference in Berlin.

There he will shed light on this and other critical aspects of 5G connectivity, including improvements in quality of service and service resilience, ultra-reliability and low latency computing for real-time use cases, and enhanced positioning methods to increase position accuracy and improve position integrity.
Given the benefits, it’s no surprise that OEMs have started plunging into 5G connectivity and C-V2X capabilities in their upcoming models.

The Multi-stakeholder Game

Ford unveiled plans to install cellular vehicle-to-everything connectivity in all new models released in the US as of 2022, with connected vehicle platform and product executive director Don Butler adding that the use of the protocol could both “increase vehicle safety and help authorities improve traffic flow.

“Planned alongside the rapidly building 5G cellular network, C-V2X enables direct communication between the connected devices, meaning a signal doesn’t need to first travel to a cellular tower, allowing vehicles to quickly send and receive information,” he explained.

The American giant is weighing the use of C-V2X to act as a complement to self-driving car sensors in automated vehicles.

The leaping 5G advantages are encouraging the telecommunications industry’s biggest players into boosting connectivity capability.

In Europe, a consortium exists of companies responsible for developing 5G technology for connected vehicles within the framework of the 5G Infrastructure Public Private Partnership (5G-PPP), supported by the EU.

The initiative, called the European 5GCAR Project, comprises 14 partners, is led by Sweden’s Ericsson, and includes Orange, Nokia, Huawei and Volvo Cars, with the aim of developing C-V2X network connectivity. The aim of the initiative, according to Ericsson, is a “significant step forward in the development of connected vehicles.”

Further, the 5GCAR program is one of the 21 new projects accepted amongst a total of 101 that were proposed for the second phase of 5G-PPP. The European Commission, industrial manufacturers, telecommunications operators, service providers, small and medium enterprises, and researchers launched this second phase in December 2013.

Ericsson indicates that the EU has allocated a budget of €154 million for innovative projects such as 5GCAR in different vertical sectors. The consortium will receive financing with the aim of expanding the tests and guaranteeing the safety of connected vehicle deployment in 2020, the year in which 5G is expected.

Franck Bouetard, director of Ericsson France, says financing is an “important step” for the development of the network to be completed in 2020. He adds that “having such projects in Europe is key in a race that takes place around the world, and that it will offer business and extra employment in the continent.”

Challenges of an impending future

Despite the positive forecasts and technological benefits of 5G for automotive applications, some deterrents exist. They range from the purely technical, such as the integration of sensors or data management, to issues of commercial alliances and consumer confidence.

At the technical level, sensors that allow 360-degree vision and that are robust in all situations; a redundant architecture in key vehicle systems such as brakes or steering; and extremely accurate and up-to-date maps are necessary. Legislative changes and improvements in infrastructure are also potential stumbling blocks.

However, Dr Martin Nemcik, connectivity strategy specialist at Škoda Auto, explains that “Automation and electrification are both major trends converging to create the next generation automotive experience. Whether automated or electrified, private or shared, the vehicles of the future will be connected.”

Therefore, although there are numerous issues to be tackled, the 5G revolution is coming, and preparation is key.

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IQPC Gesellschaft für Management Konferenzen mbH
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Geschäftsführung: Silke Klaudat, Richard A. Worden, Michael R. Worden