Niels Peter Skov Andersen:
Car2Car put the letter C into C-ITS

One hundred years ago this year, radio communication between cars, the ancestor of V2X, was patented for the first time. To mark the occasion, we asked industry players about recent milestones and what they expect from the future of V2X. In this episode, Niels Peter Skov Andersen, the General Manager of CAR 2 CAR Communication Consortium (Car2Car) answers our questions.

Published April 27, 2023

For those who are not familiar with V2X and the work of the Car2Car Communication Consortium, how would you describe its activities? What was the challenge that brought Car2Car to life?

Car2Car was the organization that put the letter C into C-ITS, the collaboration part of Intelligent Transport Systems.

Traditionally, cars didn’t have any contact with the outside world. The only connection between the car and the road operator was the tire to the tarmac. Car manufacturers started to use radars and camera systems, to individually help drivers, but they wanted to go beyond that. As the need for collaboration between vehicles emerged, the industry needed common specifications and technologies, so vehicles could understand each other.  

The work started with research. There was a frequency band, and we had to figure out how to use that. In mobile networks, the operator controls the network, but V2X is more similar to wifi. We needed a higher degree of interoperability, and in road safety applications we couldn’t allow a long setup before vehicles could start negotiating.

The first results have been brought into standardization, as the European Commission has provided funding to get standards out of the work. The research phase has continued with new developments since then, it’s not a one-shot thing. A third phase is also needed, there are always questions about how standards should be interpreted. In profiling, we define exactly how we will use the standards, exactly what we mean by hard braking and other events. In addition to our internal work, we hold regular bi-weekly meetings with road operators in C-Roads to coordinate the fine details and figure out what is important for road operators and the industry in order to align our priorities.

What was the most important landmark in V2X?

The real important landmark was the launch of the Volkswagen Golf 8. Until that point we had a lot of demonstrations and pilots. You can demonstrate a lot of things, but the moment somebody starts to put things in commercial products, that is where you move from dream to reality.

Is Car2Car mainly focusing on Europe?

At the moment Europe is the only place where we have large scale V2X deployments. Europe has a clear lead in V2X technologies. 

What are your future expectations with V2X?

If you look at our roadmap, we are moving towards providing the underlying support for fully automated driving. If I have to describe V2X to people who are not familiar with the technology, I ask them to imagine sitting in a car, while somebody paints all the windows black and then they have to drive. We need to get all the information the driver normally could observe into the car. Some of these can be received from cameras, radars and lidars. But, sooner or later, you will get into an unforeseen situation where you need to negotiate. Just what human drivers do in day to day traffic. When there’s a doubt who is to drive first, you make eye contact. That is the basic element of why you need communication.

You can get more details with better sensor technologies, but you cannot share information or negotiate. A classic example is when you are driving on a country road only one car wide, where you have these wider meeting points. The one that is closer to this meeting space has to reverse. Now, if both of you believe that the other car is closer, how do you get out of this situation?