V2X: Good Concept, How Long For Reality?

Talking about Buzz Words (see my last blog), in the area of the connected car and telematics there is a whole new sector to explore: V2X. Two services are included under V2X: Communication between vehicles - V2V (Vehicle to Vehicle) services and V2I (Vehicle to Infrastructure) services. As we observe within our new report on connected cars, the principle behind both services is that if a car is able to communicate with its surroundings there are significant safety and other benefits. V2X may be used for managing traffic flow and lane occupancy, toll collection, tracking freight and alerting cars as to road conditions. Primarily it will be used to increase road safety by enabling collision warnings, crash avoidance at cross roads or the prioritisation of emergency vehicles. V2X has reached the point where it deserves a conference of its own even if it is still at the concept stage. To give V2X its due, the principle has attracted interest from several automotive manufacturers and governments. In the US, V2V will use part of the 5.9 GHz band, an unlicensed frequency which is used by WiFi. In other geographical regions similar unlicensed frequencies will be used although cellular mobile frequencies may also play a part in larger V2X deployments. According to automotive technology supplier Denso Corporation a ”world where cars talk with other cars and traffic signals is literally right around the corner”. While the statement illustrates the principle behind V2X - that vehicles and infrastructure communicate in real time - the hurdles that will constrain widespread deployment of V2X (see below) mean that it will be many years before widespread V2X deployment is in place. Nevertheless, trials of the service are on-going and there are isolated examples of deployments of technology which bears a resemblance to those anticipated in future V2X roll outs, such as toll roads and vehicle charging infrastructure in Singapore. V2X may have achieved buzz-word status but there are at least three important challenges facing V2X: first, the cost associated with its deployment, second, its lack of ability to scale and third, proof of its benefits. For V2X to really work it needs to be wide-scale and it is only truly effective if the take-up level is high (some suggest over 97%). To date there is little indication of how quickly this will happen but, for sure, it must be a long way off.  Getting V2X technology into vehicles will be the biggest challenge. While it is possible that it could be mandated that new vehicles should be furnished with V2X technology, the challenge on how V2X should be installed in existing vehicles will remain for many years to come.