One of the most important developments out of CES 2019 was the momentum of cellular vehicle-to-everything technology and how Ford will roll it out to its global fleet by 2022.
Amid robotics, health and wellness gadgets, laptops and a bevy of other devices, Ford's move to adopt Qualcomm's cellular vehicle-to-everything (C-V2X) platform was largely overlooked.
A few years from now I'm willing to bet that Ford's move to roll out C-V2X will be the one technology development during CES 2019 that anyone will actually remember.
Simply put, C-V2X is the glue that'll bind automobiles, smart cities and infrastructure to enable a lot of the promise that to date has been elusive. Here's a primer on C-V2X and what it'll enable.
What is C-V2X?
According to the GSMA, C-V2X was standardized in June 2017. The connectivity system leverages LTE networks, provides reliable communication and supports short- and long-range transmissions between vehicles and infrastructure. C-V2X is also in the 5G roadmap. Free PDF download: Tech and the future of transportation
One of the more promising developments with C-V2X is that it can offer direct communications between vehicles and infrastructure as well as other road users. C-V2X can work independently of the cell networks. Direct communication is one transmission mode, and network connectivity is another. Network communication is what allows a vehicle to get information on road conditions, traffic and weather.
Related: CES 2019: Toyota details Guardian driver assist to avoid car crashes | CES 2019: Nvidia partners with Mercedes on artificial intelligence | CES 2019: Ford demos cellular V2X with Qualcomm chipset | CNET Roadshow and CES 2019
What does C-V2X enable?
In many ways, C-V2X enables more efficient transportation--especially in smart cities. GSMA reckons that C-V2X can lead to platooning of vehicles to form convoys and save fuel, queue warnings, collision avoidance and autonomous driving. More importantly, C-V2X literally allows vehicles to see around corners to avoid pedestrians and obstacles.
What companies support C-V2X?
Most wireless carriers, equipment makers and automakers support C-V2X. China is expected to be among the first to deploy and has run trials with Huawei, China Mobile and various automakers. Automakers supporting C-V2X include: Audi, BMW, Daimler, Ford, PSA, SAIC, Tesla and Toyota. KT develops C-V2X reader for self-driving cars
What about C-V2X deployments in city infrastructure?
It's one thing for the auto industry to get behind C-V2X and quite another for cash-strapped cities. One hurdle will be layering C-V2X into infrastructure.
Applied Information, which provides intelligent transportation infrastructure, said at CES 2019 that its LTE C-V2X products are deployed in more than 500 U.s. cities, counties, school districts and states. The company provides cellular connections to traffic signals, school zone beacons, traffic control devices and emergency vehicles. Overall, Applied Information has deployed its current C-V2X technology in more than 10,000 devices.
When will automakers deploy C-V2X?
The CES 2019 demonstrations highlighted Qualcomm's platform for C-V2X with Audi and Ford vehicles as well as Ducati motorcycles. The vehicles used Qualcomm's 9150 C-V2X chipset. Of that group, Ford actually delivered a timeline.
Ford in a blog post said that it will deploy C-V2X in all vehicles beginning in 2022. In Ford's roadmap, C-V2X will be part of a broader sensor stack for assisted driving and other features.
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