May/June 2021 | Vol. 26 No. 3
by Jim Misener, Senior Director, Product Management and the Global C-V2X Ecosystem Lead, Qualcomm
Technology advances in cellular communication have ushered in an era of ubiquitous connectivity. Smart transportation is about
disseminating information about the transportation network from an underlying network of sensors, infrastructure, and communication devices to build operating solutions and services for an intelligent transport system (ITS). An ITS that is safe, efficient,
and inclusive—and that serves the societal needs of modern living—will need to reap the benefits of both the cellular and the transportation network.
The ITS rubric is broad. Solutions that are key to autonomous vehicles are available across the board—from connectivity and telematics to in-vehicle compute. Road owners and users alike benefit from unparalleled tools for personal mobility, safety,
and environmentally friendly transportation services, including automated driving.
ITS empowers its users with meaningful information, facilitating a wide range of services from pre-trip planning and en route information, to advanced road safety services and paving the path to enhanced automated driving. While such applications bring
obvious benefits to road users, they also provide actionable insight to private entities such as transportation planners working alongside government agencies on optimal operations strategies.
Transportation planners can use the information to project travel demand. The demand information can help to determine optimal deployment of transportation infrastructure, advanced public transit services, and placement of ITS-enabled transportation pricing
and demand management systems such as electronic toll collection or variable parking fees. Planners can also benefit from insights into arterial road usage, traffic conditions, and congestion reports in shaping our neighborhoods and reducing greenhouse
Importantly, according to the World Health Organization,1 approximately 1.35 million people annually lose their lives in road traffic crashes, and more than half of the deaths are vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, bike riders, and motorcyclists.
In a smart transportation system, we need vehicles to communicate with each other and the road infrastructure reliably. The traffic management center (TMC), which oversees overall traffic control of a city or region, can be hosted in a central cloud
that harnesses the information from a wide distribution of edge clouds located throughout the city. Vehicular networks are highly dynamic, so edge servers need to be located closer to the real action, providing local analytics, context, and faster
Thus, vehicle-to-infrastructure communication becomes imperative for a comprehensively integrated ITS, which complements the growing network of connected vehicles exchanging information and significantly improving road safety. Cellular-Vehicle-to-Everything (C-V2X) is a core technology underpinning an evolving smart transportation framework of connected vehicles and road infrastructure. C-V2X, which includes vehicle-to- vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I), uses a direct communication mode or sidelink without relying on the cellular network. Vehicle-to- network (V2N) communication, on the
other hand, requires participation from the mobile network operators (MNOs) to provide services through the cellular network to vehicles and other vulnerable road users. V2N has been available roughly for over two decades now, supporting various telematics
and traffic applications.
To support an ITS of connected vehicles, roads, and infrastructure, we envision the need for car-to-cloud services to provide efficient application, content, and service management. A comprehensive set of secure services and life cycle management, such as over-the- air software updates, provides added value throughout the stages of a vehicle’s
life cycle. Such enhancements open up possibilities to a wide range of multi-tiered streaming, location-based, and personalization experiences and services for users.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, about 90 percent of motor vehicle crashes can be attributed at least in part to human error. Automotive companies and tier-one OEMs have a real opportunity to lead with autonomous or self-driving
vehicles to drastically reduce human- error-led accidents for increased road safety. The systematic approach of building an autonomy stack leverages proven AI capabilities that focus on perception, planning, action, and connectivity for autonomous
The proliferation of smartphones has contributed immensely to the rising expectations of enhanced personal mobility choices. There is a strong connection between personal mobility and economic mobility. This is where mobility on demand such as bus rapid transit and various other shared ride services can revolutionize transportation systems by maximizing automation opportunities and providing personal mobility services that are safer, affordable, reliable, and available to all. 3GPP Releases 14 and 15 introduced the direct communication mode, or sidelink, delivering latency- sensitive basic safety applications using C-V2X, without relying on the cellular network. As we continue to innovate on 5G NR technologies, Release 16+ sidelink brings several enhancements in the form of higher throughput, lower latency, and enhanced reliability.
All of these are expected to greatly enhance autonomous driving through perception sharing, path planning, real-time local updates, and coordinated driving. These features facilitate the next generation of ITS solutions for multiple autonomous driving applications such as fleet management systems, advanced driver assistance systems, mobility, and parking services, in addition to greatly reducing emissions for a cleaner environment.
At the heart of our smart transportation vision lies an integrated communication and transportation network that brings several societal benefits. Through our thought leadership, strong 5G roadmap, proven AI capabilities, and a host of other enabling technologies such as advanced positioning, extended reality, multi- mode modem and RFFE, power management, and Wi-Fi/Bluetooth, we are shaping a new era of smart transportation for advanced road safety, enhanced personal mobility, and environmental sustainability.
Mr. Misener was an early pioneer in vehicle-highway automation and vehicle safety communication at the California Partners for Advanced Transit and Highways (PATH) at the University of California, Berkeley.