Qualcomm buddies up with Ford, Panasonic to punt connected car tech

Trio says their V2X flavour totally dunks on 802.11p radio


Qualcomm, amid all of its corporate wranglings with Broadcom, is branching out into silicon for connected cars thanks to a three-way tie-up with Panasonic and Ford.

The so-called C-V2X project (cellular vehicle-to-everything) will enable connected cars to talk not only to each other but also to smart street furniture. In spite of what the name suggests, the idea is to do this without involving an external cellular phone network "or subscription", the three say.

"Recent field test results show a significant range, reliability, and performance advantage of C-V2X direct communications, with more than twice the range and improved reliability compared to 802.11p radio technology," said their statement declaring what they were up to.

Trials of their flavour of C-V2X will take place in the American state of Colorado, with the Colorado Department of Transport authorising trials of the tech in Denver and, later this year, on the I-70 Mountain Corridor motorway.

"The state of Colorado has been focused on the rapid deployment of connected vehicle technology to advance safety and are encouraged by the progression of C-V2X," said Michael Lewis, exec director of the CDoT.

The broad idea behind V2X as a general concept is that connected cars can be made more efficient if they can communicate with the road and with other cars. Benefits promoted by its advocates include the ability to platoon a number of cars in a linked formation, giving fuel savings ("slipstreaming"), as well as the ability to sail through successive green lights at just the right speed to ensure you don't get trapped in a stop-start red light hell.

The C-V2X network is said to both be running on its own slice of the 5.9GHz band, which is reserved in North America for "intelligent transportation systems", and also to be compatible with 5G, everyone's favourite telecoms spectrum marketing buzzword. It is being pitched as a competitor to 802.11p, the IEEE standard for V2X.

Comparisons can be drawn here between the various connectivity techs duking it out in the Internet of Things world. While the big players in that world (mainly the mobile network operators) promoted NB-IoT as the be-all and end-all, unlicensed spectrum tech such as Sigfox and LoRaWAN kept on gaining slices of market share, while another carrier-grade alternative, LTE-M, quietly hoovered up large chunks of global mobule manufacturing capacity, providing a physical stumbling block to adoption. It looks as if C-V2X may well be becoming the Sigfox to other industry players’ integrated-by-design 5G V2X plans. ®

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