C-V2X backers at CES 2023 urged the FCC to move ahead to support the technology. They included Qualcomm and a city CTO trying out such a system in Peachtree Corners, Georgia.
“I’m a big fan of C-V2X,” said Brandon Branham, CTO and assistant city manager for the community of 45,000 residents and 45,000 workers. He spoke in a brief interview with Fierce Electronics on the showfloor at CES.
The C-V2X technology in his town provides connections over 5.9 GHz to cars traveling a three mile segment of roadway with one pedestrian crossing and one light signal, offering warnings to drivers.They have also performed signal pre-emption for an autonomous shuttle using the T-Mobile network.*
With a mixture of residents and 45,000 workers, the roadways are heavily traveled and safety is a concern, especially for school buses and children walking or riding to school.
Over at the Qualcomm booth at CES 2023, the chip design company was showing off a roadside signal pole with a pedestrian crossing sign, lights and cellular antennae to warn drivers of an upcoming crosswalk in active use.
Qualcomm and Applied Information posted a brief Youtube video showing how the warning signs can work in practice.
The company is working with Bellevue, Washington, T-Mobile and Applied Information to show how a cloud -connected midblock pedestrian crossing equipped with a roadside unit can send a direct C-V2X alert to approaching vehicles when pedestrians are nearby. An alert is also sent to the network and cloud to let other vehicles in the area know that pedestrians are present.
The connected services will help Bellevue move towards its goal of zero fatalities and serious injury crashes on city streets by 2030, a city official told Qualcomm.
Qualcomm also showed at its booth a Trek bike equipped with a C-V2X device from Spoke, which can also be used in motorcycles and scooters.
James Misener, Qualcomm’s global C-V2X ecosystem lead, spent part of his Las Vegas trip at CES trying to persuade analysts on a bus tour about the virtues of the technology. Amid its broad portfolio of chips, Qualcomm makes a C-V2X 9150 ASIC compatible with 5G. C-V2X is also integrated into Snapdragon automotive cockpit platforms.
“Certainly we have a business interest in C-V2X, but I don’t get measured on sales,” he said in an interview with Fierce Electronics. “We are dedicated to make it go…for safety.”
Qualcomm wrote that C-V2X is “far more robust than today’s sensors that merely keep vehicles safe in their immediate surroundings [and] connected vehicles, roadside infrastructure and pedestrians outside of each other’s line of sight so they can share safety and traffic information.”
In early November, a broad group of proponents urged the FCC to act quickly on C-V2X waiver requests to use the 5.9 GHz band in a meeting with FCC staff. Among those present at the meeting were Qualcomm, Advantech, Panasonic of North America, the 5G Automotive Association, the Utah and Virginia departments of transportation. Also present were representatives from Jaguar Land Rover, Ford and Audi of America.
In July, the National Electrical Manufacturers Association urged FCC action on waiver requests by several states, noting a 16 year high in US traffic fatalities in 2021 with 42,000 deaths. “Addressing this public health crisis requires the use of every tool in our toolbox,” NEMA said. NEMA also noted that a granting of the waivers would not impact any other licensed users in the requested 5.895 to 5.925 GHz band or nearby frequencies.
While C-V2X is in use in China, it has faced delays in the US, mainly over regulatory hurdles. NeXt Curve Analyst Leonard Lee joined Qualcomm’s C-V2X demo with Misener at CES and wrote afterwards on Linked In about the state of the tech. “In short, we have a way to go. Regulatory hurdles to be overcome and a bit of a stick to get OEMs onboard,” Lee said.
In an email, Lee told Fierce Electronics that for C-V2X to catch on dramatically in the US, safety authorities may need to advocate for a new mandate like they did for seat belts and airbags. Or, perhaps, C-V2X could be used at specific dangerous intersections in a more limited fashion.
“What is missing is a holistic value proposition that will require hanging utility on C-V2X beyond safety,” Lee added. “It needs a big problem to solve…That is the challenge.”
The promotion campaign for C-V2X at CES 2023 and in filings to the FCC follows years of trials and deployments in the US, going back at least four years to June 2018 when Ford, Qualcomm and Panasonic announced a project in Colorado.
* The story was updated January 18 with mention of the autonomous shuttle using T-Mobile's network with signal pre-emption.