Qualcomm on DSRC: Has it reached a dead-end?

Article By : Junko Yoshida

Qualcomm executives discuss where the vehicle-to-everything (V2X) radio battle is going.

As carmakers learn about what highly automated vehicles can and cannot do, they are no longer dismissing offhand the idea of vehicle-to-vehicle, vehicle-to-infrastructure — collectively known as V2X.

Many view V2X as a necessary companion technology capable of offering predictive safety, something vehicles’ sensors can’t usually do without direct line-of-sight.

After all, highly automated vehicles can use the intelligence coming from V2X which will tell them what to anticipate miles ahead of time.

So, the industry is acknowledging the value of V2X. Unfortunately, that's where the agreement ends.

The V2X world remains split between those promoting the use of 802.11p-based dedicated short-range communications (DSRC) radio, and those who advocate the cellular-based “vehicle-to-everything” connectivity that leverages LTE, LTE Direct and the upcoming 5G cellular standards.

Qualcomm’s pending takeover of NXP Semiconductors isn’t making the path to V2X any clearer.

NXP remains a staunch advocate for DSRC-based V2X (as demonstrated via truck platooning on Munich roads last week during Electronica). Qualcomm, a leading voice and force behind the progress of the cellular standards, is sticking to its cellular radio technology-based V2X evolution.

Qualcomm executives, Durga Malladi, senior vice president of Engineering and Dino Flore, senior director of standards, who is also chairman of the 3GPP RAN group, last week talked about where V2X’s radio battle is unfolding.

Following are excerpts from our conversation.

Yoshida: So, where do you see LTE-V2X today?
Malladi: First, we don’t call it LTE-V2X. We call it Cellular-V2X. Because this isn’t going to be a one-and-done deal. We see this as a continued cellular revolution with new elements coming in.

Yoshida: In your view, what constitutes V2X?
Malladi: There are four components: Vehicle-to-Vehicle (collision avoidance safety systems), Vehicle-to-Network (real-time traffic/routing, cloud services), Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (traffic signal timing/priority) and Vehicle-to-Pedestrian (safety alerts to pedestrians, bicyclists).

Yoshida: How did Qualcomm get involved in V2X?
Malladi: For us, the genesis… is our development of LTE Direct, which is now a part of the LTE standard.

[LTE Direct cr]
Figure 1: Cellular-V2X as mobile connectivity technologies do.

Yoshida: Can you explain LTE Direct?
Malladi: It is a device-to-device technology, allowing the discovery of thousands of devices faster — without involving networks.

LTE Direct protocols enable discovery completely autonomously. There is no need to get connected to a network. It doesn’t drain the device battery.

Yoshida: Is LTE Discovery broadly used today?
Flore: Device-to-device communication is picking up interests for safety applications. We anticipate the demand to rise from police and other agencies.

Yoshida: What about other LTE Direct applications?
Flore: This is essentially an always-on discovery platform designed to allow power-efficient, flexible distribution of content for set-tops and other terminals in proximity networks.

Yoshida: Are they already in commercial use?
Flore: No strong commercial demand yet. It’s not yet successful.

[V2X on LTE-Direct cr]
Figure 2: Qualcomm's V2X technology uses the Qualcomm LTE Direct system.

Yoshida: But you think LTE Direct would be successful in V2X?
Malladi: Mobile phones have improved so much. Smart phones today look nothing like mobile handsets 10 years ago. Along with it, all the technology innovations have been taking place in cellular networks. Smart phones autonomously discovering one another is essentially the same as vehicles discovering one another.

The differences are only in semantics.


On the next page, Qualcomm executives continue the discussion on the company's V2X strategy and using DSRC as a technology.

Next: Using DSRC as a V2X technology »

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