New waves in vehicle communication

Our team recently completed crossborder tests as part of the European C-Roads project, and many more will follow in the coming months. The initiative emphasizes the EU’s commitment to digitizing its road infrastructure with vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communication. The aim of building a Cooperative Intelligent Transport System (C-ITS) to span the continent is increasing traffic efficiency and safety, as the European Commission’s Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy declared last year. The system is designed to cover all road users, including cars, trucks, two-wheelers, and pedestrians. 

However, the underlying technology that paves the way for Cooperative ITS systems in Europe is discussed less. It’s similar to other wireless tools we use daily. European deployments mostly use Dedicated Short-range Communication (DSRC) wireless technology, also called the ETSI ITS-G5 standard. But there’s another term for ITS-G5: 802.11p. Sounds familiar? Yepp, it’s in the same family of wireless standards as consumer wifi, the latest version of which is known as 802.11ax or Wifi 6.

ITS-G5 being deployed in mass production

Establishing a direct connection between vehicles and roadside units is the essence of ITS-G5. All this happens in the dedicated 5.9 GHz frequency band, without using any cellular – 4G or 5G – infrastructure. A pronounced difference between home wifi and ITS-G5 is that the latter is not designed for binge-watching movies. ITS-G5’s main purpose is sending messages automatically, ten times a second, with a communication range of more than 1 kilometer, to ensure that other vehicles know the current position, speed, and direction of our vehicle. 

There’s more than a decade of work in ITS-G5 development. This has created a large ecosystem with dozens of use cases for safety.

Just as you saw home wifi becoming more and more capable, ITS-G5 is on a similar evolutionary path. The original 802.11p standard was derived from the first 802.11a version of consumer wifi.

Standardization experts say the evolution of ITS-G5 is ready to begin its next phase: that’s 802.11bd

The new ITS-G5 with 802.11bd offers lower latency, significantly higher bandwidth with 256QAM modulation, and reliable operation at a higher relative speed between two vehicles – 500 km/h altogether! Laws will probably have to be tweaked a bit before we see 250 km/h on public roads. It’ll be much easier to measure the higher data transfer rate that MIMO antenna configurations will support.

The 802.11bd specification opens the door to more complex use cases, such as sharing the data of multiple sensors between vehicles. This would allow V2X messages to have an increasing influence on the vehicle’s movement and functions. It is clear that V2X will play an increasingly important role in advanced driver-assistance systems and self-driving vehicles.

No matter what the future holds, Commsignia’s automotive-grade software will be compliant with all current and emerging technologies, ready to digitize roads with top-performing and highly secure vehicle communication solutions.