Qualcomm, Audi, Ericsson wrap three-year smart car comms test

Qualcomm, Audi AG and Ericsson announced on Wednesday success upon wrapping up a three-year cellular vehicle-to-everything (C-V2X) real-world trial that first began in December 2016 in Germany.  They concluded that C-V2X is reliable and high performing.

Audi vehicles were able to communicate wirelessly with each other with 100% effectiveness while traveling in opposite directions along German superhighways at speeds of 270 mph. In urban settings, vehicles could talk to each other at blind intersections.

Such technology is considered critical in the role of future connected vehicles and Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) that are being researched globally by carmakers and chip designers.  City planners and highway engineers are focused on using such technology to cut down on traffic fatalities and improve the efficiency of traffic grids as cars talk to each other and to traffic lights and other road commands.

Field tests in the trial were conducted at various highway and urban locations in Germany, but also across the borders with France, Luxembourg and Germany, the companies said. SWARCO Traffic Systems GmbH and the University of Kaiserlautern joined in the trial with Qualcomm, Audi and Ericsson in a consortium dubbed Connected Vehicle-to-Everything of Tomorrow (ConVeX).  The collaboration was co-funded by the German federal transportation authority.

Engineers created tests to provide evidence that short-range direct and cellular wide-range communications can talk to each other.  The results demonstrated the reliability and performance of V2X technology, the companies said.  Detailed results were posted online.

Jens Kotz, head of electrics at Audi said the Audi fleet was connected effectively with traffic lights.  “Now we look ahead as C-V2X will dramatically boost road safety and efficiency in our cities,” he said in a statement. “The ConVeX project enabled Audit to test the technology under challenging real-world conditions.”  Still ahead: define standards with other companies and transportation providers to provide an exact coordinate system for connected vehicles

Qualcomm has been active in making and marketing chips and infrastructure to expand 5G cellular around the globe but also auto communication and computation.  Enrico Salvatori, senior vice president and president of Qualcomm EMEA and Qualcomm Europe, called the successful trial “another step in the right direction toward our vision for smart transportation—helping advance the day for few accidents, less congestion and overall greener mobility.”

He said that Qualcomm is continuing to invest in the development of C-V2X technologies following the pathway of connecting 3GPP (Third Generation Partnership Project) to 5G. 

During the ConVeX test, Qualcomm provided its 9150 C-V2X platform that was used in Audi vehicles with SWARCO’s intelligent road infrastructure software.  Tests for Vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) involved direct communication in the 5.9 GHz ITS frequencies, as well as Vehicle-to-Network (V2N) wide area communications.  

The tests showed 100% reliability in receiving safety messages for line of sight at about 1 mile, with two vehicles traveling in opposite directions at 430 km/h (about 270 mph) along the German A9 and A6 highways. Also, in city conditions, there was 100% reliability for V2V communication at blind intersections between vehicles at least 140 meters apart.

Ericsson’s 5G network was also able to support alerts for hazardous icy roads because of 5G’s low latency and high reliability. The cross-border communication with C-V2X was also the world’s first.

At CES in January, Qualcomm demonstrated its Snapdragon Ride platform for assisted and self-driving vehicles, taking reporters on highway test rides. That demonstration did not involve cellular communication with surrounding cars and infrastructure, however.

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