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The signs for the revolution in the automotive communications world are already evident. The technology that allows vehicles to directly communicate with each other, roadside infrastructure, and other road users to deliver an array of benefits in the form of road safety, traffic efficiency, smart mobility, environmental sustainability, and driver convenience is commonly referred to as V2X, vehicle-to-everything communications technology. 

V2X is also helping pave the way for fully autonomous driving through its unique non line-of-sight sensing capability which allows vehicles to detect potential hazards, traffic, and road conditions from longer distances and sooner than other in-vehicle sensors such as cameras, radar, and LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging).

The global spending on V2X communications technology is expected to grow at a CAGR of more than 170% between 2019 and 2022. SNS Telecom & IT predicts that by the end of 2022, V2X will account for a market worth $1.2 Billion, with an installed base of nearly 6 Million V2X-equipped vehicles worldwide, according to researchmoz.us.

Although legacy V2I (Vehicle-to-Infrastructure) technologies are currently in operational use worldwide for electronic toll collection and relatively simple applications, advanced V2X systems are beginning to gain broad commercial acceptance.

Two competing technologies are vying for the attention of automakers and regulators:  the commercially mature IEEE 802.11p/DSRC (Dedicated Short Range Communications) standard, and the relatively new 3GPP-defined C-V2X (Cellular V2X) technology which has a forward evolutionary path towards 5G.

While Toyota and other DSRC proponents are pushing ahead with their plans to roll out IEEE 802.11p in North America, Europe and Japan, pre-commercial C-V2X deployments have recently gained considerable momentum, spearheaded by cellular industry giants such as Qualcomm and Huawei – with support from automakers including Ford, BMW, Daimler, etc.

Regional markets are also visibly divided with the Chinese Government backing C-V2X, Europe leaning towards IEEE 802.11p through its recently published delegated act on C-ITS (Cooperative Intelligent Transport Systems), and heated debates ensuing in the United States.

As a result, a number of automotive OEMs are beginning to adopt a flexible approach by choosing to deploy different technologies in different regions as they commit to V2X. 

Besides becoming a standard safety feature on an increasing number of vehicles, V2X communications technology – through its unique non line-of-sight sensing capability – will play a critical role in ensuring the safe and efficient operation of autonomous driving systems, particularly with the commercialization of next-generation V2X standards.

The globally harmonized 5.9 GHz band continues to remain the preferred spectrum for V2X communications technology, with the exception of Japan. Early discussions are ongoing for the potential use of new bands, most notably in the 3.4 – 3.8 GHz and 5.9 – 7.2 GHz frequency ranges, as well as millimeter wave spectrum for LOS (Line-of-Sight) and high data rate V2X applications.