High-speed, wireless data that connect vehicles to each other will likely be part of 5G cellular wireless technology rollout throughout the next several years, forcing regulators and researchers to determine how to share crowded data airways.

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in late December 2019, froze applications for 20MHz of the 5.9GHz wireless spectrum to better understand how to allocate the 5,850MHz-to-5,895MHz and 5,905MHz-to-5,925MHz bands. Regulators reserve that portion of the spectrum for data connections to and from vehicles, but FCC members say it’s unclear how best to assign that space.

Dedicated short-range communications (DSRC), a technology under development for nearly 20 years, uses one-way or two-way short-range to medium-range wireless channels to allow vehicles to set up simple, ad-hoc networks with nearby vehicles. Automakers and safety advocates have long advocated data sharing between vehicles to provide information for safety systems. Simple proximity alerts, for example, could warn a car that it’s about to collide with another before a camera-based system might detect the problem.

Cellular vehicle-to-everything (C-V2X) is a competing standard that uses cellular networks to pass information between vehicles.

Ensuring that the competing technologies play nice when using adjacent bandwidth is critical, so the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) is partnering with the 5G Automotive Association trade group to simultaneously test deployment of C-V2X and DSRC in the Ann Arbor Connected Environment (AACE). AACE covers 27 square miles of the city, providing a testing environment for several connected vehicle technologies.

“It is important to demonstrate that C-V2X and DSRC can occupy adjacent channels in a real-world environment, but equally important to continue to illustrate how connected vehicle technology can prevent crashes, save lives, and alleviate congestion,” says UMTRI Director Jim Sayer.

The AACE has already deployed vehicle-to-everything (V2X) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) applications including forward collision warning, emergency electronic brake light, emergency vehicle approach, intersection movement assist, curve speed warning, ice warning, red-light violation warning, and pedestrian in crosswalk warnings.

As automakers and technology companies pursue autonomous driving projects, transmitting high-quality data to warn vehicles about upcoming hazards becomes critical. Guaranteeing a safe, reliable communications channel is a key step in that process.

“Once we demonstrate that CV2X and DSRC can coexist on a large scale, the next step is to develop deployment strategies for managing evolving, lifesaving V2X technologies. At UMTRI, we purport that connected vehicle technology will be a stepping-stone to commercialization of automated vehicles,” says Debby Bezzina. AACE program manager.

U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) https://www.fcc.gov

University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute http://www.umtri.umich.edu

About the author: Robert Schoenberger is the editor of TMV. He can be reached at rschoenberger@gie.net or 216.393.0271.