V2X - The future of vehicle communications

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V2X - The future of vehicle communications

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V2X: The future of vehicle communications

Martin Keenan Photo
Inside of a connected car depicting

Vehicles are about to become a lot more communicative: with other road users, with the infrastructure they pass on their journeys, with cloud-based services, and even with the energy grid. This communication should make vehicles more economical to operate, as well as enabling new capabilities. Making such communication possible, though, will mean solving a series of design challenges in a rapidly evolving regulatory environment and complex engineering context.

The auto industry, and the regulators that enable it, have come up with a series of acronyms to denote the various ways in which connected cars will communicate with other entities.

V2V stands for vehicle to vehicle communications. It implies a future in which cars, vans, trucks, and even motorbikes will communicate directly with each other to share information about road conditions and hazards, and to collaborate on managing traffic.

V2I stands for vehicle to infrastructure communications and refers to techniques for connecting cars with road-management systems such as traffic lights and speed signs.

V2N stands for vehicle to network communication, and enables access to, for example, in-vehicle service providers and infotainment streams.

V2G, a lesser used acronym, stands for vehicle to grid, and implies a future in which hybrid and electric vehicles that are on charge become part of an intelligent energy distribution grid, helping to smooth out peaks and troughs in power demand by sourcing or sinking energy as needed.

And there’s even talk of V2P communications, in which, for example, when pedestrians near a crossing their smartphone announces their presence and desire to cross the road to nearby vehicles and infrastructure. Overall, expect to see plenty of mentions of V2X strategies in the next few years.

Each new form of communication will present a challenge and an opportunity to automotive system OEMs, and the component makers that supply them. Their reward for doing the necessary development should be large available markets worldwide.
 

V2X communications

A recent report by Juniper Research forecasts that more than 62 million vehicles will be capable of V2V communication by 2023; up from just over 1.1 million in 2019. This represents an average annual growth rate of 173% over four years. The study, Consumer Connected Cars: Telematics, In-Vehicle Apps & Connected Car Commerce 2018-2023, suggests that this year’s introduction of 5G networks will help speed up the roll-out of V2V communications. It predicted that automotive OEMs will gravitate towards 5G networks for V2V communication over other technologies; owing to their lower latency and greater range.

One of the main purposes of V2V communications is to enable greater safety on increasingly crowded roads. The US’s Department of Transport (DoT) has been researching V2V safety for a number of years. Its research program defined applications for the technology, such as helping drivers to avoid forward collisions, cross intersections more safely, keeping track of hazards in their vehicle’s blind spots, warning when other vehicles are changing lanes, suggesting drivers should not change lanes or pass other vehicles, and warning if other vehicles are out of control.

Examples of V2V communication safety applications

GSMA, the mobile telecoms association, in its report on Cellular Vehicle-to-Everything (C-V2X) strategies, adds further use cases, such as vehicle platooning, co-operative driving, queue warnings, collecting road tolls, and enabling increasingly autonomous driving.
 

Radio options

Achieving these benefits demands a flexible and robust radio system that can reliably exchange messages between vehicles at closing speeds of 200mph or more, in arbitrary environmental conditions.

The choice of radio technology was apparently settled when the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), swiftly followed by the International Standards Organisation, chose the Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC) standard as the official wireless technology for V2V. A lobbying group, Intelligent Transportation Systems America, had been asking the Federal Communications Commission to set aside 75MHz of spectrum around 5.9GHz for V2V since 1997, and finally succeeded in having it allocated in 2006.

DSRC uses a WiFi-like protocol, IEEE802.11p, which enables communication between fast-moving vehicles by simplifying the process by which a link is established, pushing authentication and security issues up the protocol stack. The technology has a range of about 300m, has been widely trialled and proven, and is now in commercial operation. There are concerns that there is little room for development with the 802.11p standard, that its latency may be too great to cope with really fast-moving vehicles, and that there could be interference between it and 5GHz WiFi channels. But for a while, at least, the radio technology choice for V2X communications looked settled.

In April 2019 the European Parliament backed DSRC as the baseline standard for V2V and V2I services, with LTE and 5G for accessing V2N (cloud) services.

Enter, then, the mobile industry, which wants to promote 4G LTE and, eventually the emerging 5G protocol, to enable V2X instead. C-V2X uses variants of the LTE standard, such as LTE Direct, to enable peer-to-peer V2V and V2I connections without having to access the cellular network. Another variant, LTE Broadcast, will facilitate V2I and V2N functions. It’s not clear yet whether vehicle makers will go for LTE, LTE Advanced, or 5G as the underlying technology for C-V2X, but they do offer some advantages. The promise of 5G, particularly, is that it supports more simultaneous connections per unit area than previous cellular standards, each communicating at very low latency. This low latency matters because, at closing speeds of 300kph, 10ms is equivalent to about 80cm or half a car bonnet’s length – the difference between a collision and just a scare. There’s also an argument to be made that 5G C-V2X strategies will enable more precise positioning and ranging than DSRC.

The US DoT is clearly feeling the pressure from the mobile lobby, since in December 2018 it launched a call for public comments on ”the use and integration of Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X) communications technologies into the transportation environment.

“In particular, DoT solicits comment on issues ranging from the use of alternative and emerging communications technologies to support V2X, to the challenges associated with achieving interoperability while accommodating technological change.”

There’s similar uncertainty in Europe. In July 2019, the European Council of Ministers sent back the bill endorsing DSRC to the European Parliament. It is expected to favour, instead, a more ‘neutral’, hybrid approach, in which either technology can be used for V2X communications. This will be good for cellular operators but may call into question the substantial investments that some vehicle makers have already made in enabling and applying DSRC.
 

Engineering challenges

The engineering challenges involved in implementing V2X technologies are therefore quite complex.

The first, as just discussed, is managing the uncertainty about the protocols and frequency bands that will be used to implement V2X, and, especially for the C-V2X option, the continuing evolution of the 4G and 5G standards as they relate to V2X.

The second issue is achieving reliable and consistent communications, between vehicles and other vehicles, local infrastructure and the network, in arbitrary environmental conditions and complex RF environments. (Think of the mix of RF challenges in a modern car, from Bluetooth-connected headphones to fast-switching inverters to power buses carrying ever higher currents.)

The third issue is the usual automotive equipment suppliers’ challenge, of producing highly reliable equipment that will meet auto makers’ standards while achieving acceptable volume pricing.

Vishay Intertechnology introduces the new F339X2 305VAC series of Automotive Grade X2 electromagnetic interference (EMI) suppression film capacitors
 

Connectivity is obviously a key issue, and Amphenol offers the latest versions of its multigenerational FAKRA RF connection technology (above), for use in automotive telematics applications including WiFi – and hence DSRC. The parts are meant to connect external automotive devices, and are sealed to IP69K, which should make them proof against powerful water ingress. They are available with colour-coded and keyed shrouds (to prevent mis-keying during assembly), latches, and a wide variety of keying options and colour codes.

EMI suppression is also an issue, with many component makers offering parts to control it in systems ranging from embedded controllers to large switching power supplies. For example, Vishay Intertechnology has introduced the F339X2 series of 305V AC automotive grade X2 EMI suppression film capacitors (right). They’re qualified to the AEC-Q200 (rev. D) and IEC 60384-14: 2013 / AMD1: 2016 grade IIB quality standards. The parts are designed to act as EMC filters for automotive and industrial power inverters.

Amphenol Industrial now offers the SurLok Plus EMI-protection version of its high-current connector and cabling system, for use in hybrid and full electric vehicles. The quick-connect and locking system includes a high-voltage interlock loop safety feature and EMI shielding. Termination options include crimps, screws, or busbars. The parts are meant to provide touch-safe connections to battery packs delivering between 50A and 400A. The cabling system is IP67-rated and can be ordered in sealed and unsealed variants.

Amphenol Industrial has enhanced its SurLok Plus™ high current connector and cabling system  with EMI shielding

Murata is also responding to the challenge of EMI control in an automotive environment. Last year it launched a 0201 inch (0.6 x 0.3 mm) GHz-band, high-impedance ferrite bead noise-suppression filter. The BLM03EB_SH series is meant for use in automotive powertrain and safety applications, to counter the EMI produced by radio modules serving V2X, tolling and related applications.

The small size of the part, as compared to the previous smallest 0402 ferrite bead noise suppressor should help miniaturise automotive circuitry. Murata also plans to launch similar parts operating at higher frequencies and currents.

Molex also has a wide range of specialist connection products for the automotive industry. The HSAutoLink Interconnect System provides a robust, sealed and cost-competitive system that can support data rates of up to 13.5Gbit/s, enabling it to carry communication protocols such as LVDS, USB 2.0, USB 3.1, DisplayPort, and the 13.5Gbit/s FDP-Link4 standard.

Features include the inclusion of shrouds and latches as standard, ensuring the connectors are rugged enough to meet USCAR requirements, and support for full-length cable shielding for EMI protection. The connectors also use the proven Molex LFH terminal interface, which is designed to enable high-bandwidth differential signals, with an extended cycle life and stable contact resistance.

These are just some examples of products that will help designers serve the needs of V2X equipment OEMs. While it is unclear how the market will evolve, and which radio system will emerge as the de facto standard, it’s clear that the more that cars communicate, with us, with each other, with the environment they are operating within, and with the cloud, the more care designers will have to take to ensure their messages are always heard clearly. If you need advice on component selectiong for V2X applications, click the Ask an Expert button to get in touch with one of our technical specialists in your local language. Alternatively, explore our automotive resources and solutions from some of the world's leading automotive component suppliers.

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Martin Keenan Photo
Martin Keenan

As Technical Director, Martin is responsible for technical marketing strategy across IP&E, power and...

V2X - The future of vehicle communications

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V2X - The future of vehicle communications

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By Adam Chidley   -   July 29, 2016
If you’re adding wired Ethernet to a design, you will of course have to consider magnetics.
Selecting the right cable and/or connector assembly for a fibre optic installation need not be complex, but it is important to understand the requirements of the environment and the application.
Selecting fibre optic cables
By Marco Enge   -   July 12, 2016
Selecting the right cable and/or connector assembly for a fibre optic installation need not be complex, but it is important to understand the requirements of the environment and the application.
Industry 4.0 and the digitisation of the manufacturing sector will have repercussions for all sectors of industrial electronics.
Evolving component technologies will make Industry 4.0 viable
By Martin Keenan   -   May 22, 2016
Industry 4.0 and the digitisation of the manufacturing sector will have repercussions for all sectors of industrial electronics.
Thermal management is of critical importance in LED lighting systems. LEDs themselves give off heat when lit due to their own inefficiencies, and knock on effects of that heat can rapidly reduce the LEDs’ lifespan if it isn’t managed carefully.
Calculating LED heatsinks
By Giovanna Monari   -   May 22, 2016
Thermal management is of critical importance in LED lighting systems. LEDs themselves give off heat when lit due to their own inefficiencies, and knock on effects of that heat can rapidly reduce the LEDs’ lifespan if it isn’t managed carefully.
Aluminium electrolytic and polymer wound aluminium electrolytic capacitors may seem similar at first glance, but the technologies offer very different performance characteristics.
‘Wet’ aluminium and polymer aluminium capacitors – what’s the difference?
By Ekaterina Rachel   -   April 1, 2016
Aluminium electrolytic and polymer wound aluminium electrolytic capacitors may seem similar at first glance, but the technologies offer very different performance characteristics.
Although they’ve been superseded in some applications by newer technologies such as solid state relays (SSRs), electromechanical relays (EMRs) still have a lot to offer.
Modern electromechanical relays meet today’s reliability demands
By Giovanna Monari   -   February 2, 2016
Although they’ve been superseded in some applications by newer technologies such as solid state relays (SSRs), electromechanical relays (EMRs) still have a lot to offer.
LEDs are widely touted as the perfect solution for lighting applications because, in theory at least, they last forever.What’s less frequently spoken about is that circuit protection can make or break the design.
Circuit protection is vital for long lifetimes in LED lighting
By Adam Chidley   -   January 7, 2016
LEDs are widely touted as the perfect solution for lighting applications because, in theory at least, they last forever.What’s less frequently spoken about is that circuit protection can make or break the design.
Today, supercapacitors are widely used in transport applications to help stabilise the output power of a main power source and improve fuel efficiency.
Supercapacitors: Making transport more efficient
By Adam Chidley   -   September 7, 2015
Today, supercapacitors are widely used in transport applications to help stabilise the output power of a main power source and improve fuel efficiency.
The various types of capacitors all have their advantages and disadvantages, but polymer capacitors offer a host of desirable electrical characteristics.
The unstoppable rise of polymer capacitors
By Ekaterina Rachel   -   August 10, 2015
The various types of capacitors all have their advantages and disadvantages, but polymer capacitors offer a host of desirable electrical characteristics.
The invention of the micro switch goes back over 80 years to 1932 and is attributed to one Peter McGall of Freeport, Illinois, USA. Who knows how many billion of these handy little components have been manufactured since, but there can hardly be a ho
Understanding micro switches and hysteresis
By Giovanna Monari   -   June 12, 2015
The invention of the micro switch goes back over 80 years to 1932 and is attributed to one Peter McGall of Freeport, Illinois, USA. Who knows how many billion of these handy little components have been manufactured since, but there can hardly be a ho
Fans are often looked at like insurance policies – they’re something you need, rather than something you want.
Fans have few fans, but perhaps they should?
By Mathias Goebel   -   May 28, 2015
Fans are often looked at like insurance policies – they’re something you need, rather than something you want.
Supercapacitors are an alternative to using a battery or indeed the more common-or-garden variety of capacitor in many energy storage applications, perhaps as backup power or for high-surge demand applications.
What’s super about supercapacitors?
By Adam Chidley   -   May 18, 2015
Supercapacitors are an alternative to using a battery or indeed the more common-or-garden variety of capacitor in many energy storage applications, perhaps as backup power or for high-surge demand applications.
Machine-to-machine (M2M) communications has undergone phenomenal growth in recent years and connectivity is becoming increasingly reliant upon wireless networks.
Latest developments in antennas for M2M communications
By Marco Enge   -   April 30, 2015
Machine-to-machine (M2M) communications has undergone phenomenal growth in recent years and connectivity is becoming increasingly reliant upon wireless networks.
Thermal management is a key element of LED lighting design, ensuring reliable operation, better performance and extended device lifetimes.
LED thermal management: Is it just me or is it getting hot in here?
By Giovanna Monari   -   March 19, 2015
Thermal management is a key element of LED lighting design, ensuring reliable operation, better performance and extended device lifetimes.

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