Qualcomm unveils 5G vehicle-to-everything systems and energy efficiency

Qualcomm’s latest work centered on vehicles that can communicate with each other, pedestrians and surrounding infrastructure.
Written by Jonathan Greig, Contributor

Qualcomm displayed a slate of new 5G-related vehicle technology and energy efficiency efforts during its R&D Virtual Showcase this month. 

John Smee, vice president of engineering at Qualcomm, said the company is working to break "technology barriers" and bring "superior 5G system performance to new industries, use cases and experiences for the smartphone and beyond."

At the event the company unveiled 5G V2X sidelink, technology that will be used to connect vehicles to each other as well as pedestrians, bikers, local infrastructure and nearby roadside units. 

Qualcomm researchers said the end goal for the technology was to improve road safety by connecting cars to more things through 5G. 

Qualcomm's 5G Rel-16 aligned R&D prototype offers users "enhanced network capacity by offloading high-bandwidth data such as local high-res 3D maps from wide-area 5G networks, as well as bringing more robust communication with distributed time synchronization to maintain communication even when GNSS is unavailable."

The company envisions vehicle-to-vehicle communication helping stop collisions while vehicle-to-pedestrian communication will offer safety alerts to those crossing roads. Vehicle-to-infrastructure systems will allow cars and trucks to sync with traffic signal timing and vehicle-to-network connections will assist in providing real time traffic updates and routing options to drivers. 

Researchers held two demos, the first of which showed how a car that encounters an impediment can notify a vehicle hundreds of meters behind it about the blockage through a roadside unit. 

The second car is given a high-resolution real-time 3D map with local landmarks and other references to help with navigation. 


The second demo involved illustrating how cars would be able to communicate with each other even when they did not have GNSS signals, which are often lost in tunnels and parking garages. 

The demonstration showed how multiple cars were able to communicate and share travel information between each other. 

Qualcomm noted that the technology is already being deployed in China and will make its way to the US some time next year. The 5G V2X sidelink system operates in a dedicated spectrum of 5.9 GHz. Qualcomm announced earlier this month that it would be testing out 5G V2X sidelink in Peachtree Corners, Georgia this year. 

Another presentation focused on Qualcomm's efforts to make their technology more energy efficient

Qualcomm said its researchers are "pursuing greener networks, including new advanced techniques, such as digital post distortion and high-efficiency modulation schemes that can greatly reduce the energy consumption of a mobile network system while sustaining high performance data links."

Gideon Kurtz, senior director of technology at Qualcomm, spoke at length about how to improve the energy consumption of radio base stations.

"Power amplifiers are a major source for base station power inefficiency since they are operated at a very inefficient operating point. If one were to try to increase the efficiency by reducing the power amplifier headroom then the result would be a reduced quality of the transmitted signal," Kurtz said. 

"Saving power serves two key purposes. First, it can reduce significantly the operational costs and in addition, it provided an important step towards addressing climate action."

Kurtz and others explained that signal processing techniques can improve power amplifier efficiency in existing base station hardware through a variety of methods like federated over-the-air digital pre-distortion, peak-to-average power reduction, digital post distortion or some combination of these methods. 

Ronen Shaked, principal engineer at Qualcomm, added that the company's "Super QAM" technology increases peak data rates between 50-66%, allowing base stations shorter transmission durations and reduced power consumption. 

"Super QAM technology can increase the peak data rates significantly," Shaked said. "This is not only great for users but allows for the base station to have shorter transmission duration and therefore reduced power consumption. We allow the base station to shut off its RF for a longer duration."

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