What is V2X communication? Creating connectivity for the autonomous car era
Unless you're a hardcore vintage car enthusiast, you'll have noticed that vehicles are becoming increasingly connected, both to each other and to the outside world.
With car operating systems running everything from infotainment to autonomous driving, vehicles are becoming ever more intelligent and less reliant on human operation. Vehicle users stand to benefit from safer, greener, and more efficient journeys thanks to copious sensors and onboard connectivity, while car manufacturers, tech companies, and communications providers have a whole new market to compete in.
V2X, which stands for 'vehicle to everything', is the umbrella term for the car's communication system, where information from sensors and other sources travels via high-bandwidth, low-latency, high-reliability links, paving the way to fully autonomous driving.
There are several components of V2X, including vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V), vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I), vehicle-to-pedestrian (V2P), and vehicle-to-network (V2N) communications. In this multifaceted ecosystem, cars will talk to other cars, to infrastructure such as traffic lights or parking spaces, to smartphone-toting pedestrians, and to datacentres via cellular networks. Different use cases will have different sets of requirements, which the communications system must handle efficiently and cost-effectively.
What kind of transportation experience can we expect in a V2X world? Researchers from Huawei's German Research Center in Munich outlined their vision in a December 2017 paper:
(1) User hails an on-demand car via an app; (2) Vehicle self-drives or is tele-operated to the user, whose personal transportation app connected over the mobile radio network adjusts the car to selected presets; (3) Vehicle searches for the platoon best suited to the user's preferences and performs cooperative maneuvering to join the selected platoon, saving energy by allowing car following at very short gaps; (4) Two-way navigation guides the vehicle around a congested stretch of road; (5) User takes control to exit the highway and drive on a particularly scenic road suggested by the connected navigation system; (6) Vehicle drops the user off at the destination; (7) The vehicle self-drives, either to an automated parking lot (7a) or to a different user (7b).
Image & legend (edited): Use Cases, Requirements, and Design Considerations for 5G V2X (Huawei German Research Center, 2017)
The Huawei researchers noted that: "While this example might seem far into the future, most of the technology needed to enable it (high precision maps, real time traffic information, sensors inside the vehicle such as radars, cameras, ultrasonic, etc.) are either already available or will be in the near future. The most prominent missing component is a high reliability, low latency communications system."