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Automotive

Contenders Rev Their Engines at the Start of the V2X Race

For many years it was clear that dedicated short-range communications (DSRC) would be the technology underpinning automotive safety applications, with extensive trialing worldwide, increasing availability of off-the-shelf modules and plans to mandate the deployment of the technology in all US vehicles. Nothing else was in the running.

But all of the effort going into DSRC was preparatory work, development investment that took place in the automotive safety pit box. Aside from a few practice laps, things never quite got underway.

And just before the green flag was waved, a rival rolled out of the workshop with technology based on cellular networks. Cellular vehicle-to-everything (C-V2X) had heavyweight investors, lots of technical, economic and political clout, and it was suddenly clear that there was going to be a proper race.

We are now on the formation lap. Both teams are claiming their solutions are best placed to meet automotive safety needs. Both are jockeying for automotive industry and regulatory support; both are fully intent on winning the prize: domination of what will be a very large, global, lucrative market. Communications systems linking vehicles with transport infrastructures, Internet-based application providers and each other to deliver safety, transport efficiency and information services will be worth billions of dollars worldwide.

Those in support of DSRC promote its maturity, the extent of testing, commercial availability of modules and the fact it is being deployed or deployment is planned in (a few) models of car. They also point to the likely lengthy time to availability of C-V2X technologies, as well as technical challenges still to be overcome before C-V2X systems can be fully proven in robust field trials. Meanwhile, C-V2X solution advocates claim potentially significant improved system capability and a long-term technology development roadmap.

It is still too early to see which technology will emerge triumphant -- DSRC or cellular V2X. But regulators, automotive manufacturers and device vendors are now having to place their pre-race bets. Hedging might be the best strategy, with the possibility for both to be deployed.

It is at this point Heavy Reading has undertaken a review of the market. Its latest report, C-V2X: Coming on Fast in the Inside Lane, takes a look at the ongoing connected car test and trial activity around the world, specifically in the context of integrated traffic and safety systems. It considers the different technology options, examines recent car connectivity trials around the world and reviews the emerging supply chain.

— Simon Sherrington, Contributing Analyst, Heavy Reading

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