How V2X solutions work

Vehicle-to-everything, or V2X solutions connect road users with each other and the infrastructure. International standards ensure that cars, motorcycles, bicycles and roadside equipment from different manufacturers send messages to each other in a language they all understand.

V2X has a range of more than half a mile and does not require a direct line of sight, expanding the space where we perceive other objects in traffic.

Connectivity in the automotive industry

Vehicles generate messages with a V2X software stack. It can run on a dedicated V2X OBU, a retrofitted on-board unit, but car manufacturers usually install it on their own electronic equipment.

V2X is like a heartbeat, vehicles typically send ten messages per second. These messages contain important parameters such as the accurate geographical location, the actual speed, velocity and direction of the vehicle, and the status of brakes and hazard warning lights.

Vehicles receiving V2X messages run applications based on this vast amount of information to display alerts of potential dangers. Messages can be read by all V2X-enabled vehicles, but only the relevant ones are used. In most cases, messages from a car on the other side of the highway are not useful from a safety point of view. Unless the data tells us that the vehicle is going off the road, possibly crossing our path.

Applications are divided into several categories according to their level of complexity.

  • Day 1 applications includes basic awareness solutions, all of which are technically feasible today. These apps provide alerts about traffic jams, accidents, objects on the road, construction zones and poor weather or road conditions. 
  • Some of the more advanced Day 2 applications are still under development or finalization. One of the best-known Day 2 apps is platooning, which coordinates autonomous and cooperative driving of high-speed caravans of trucks to move efficiently.

Road safety applications use a dedicated radio frequency on the 5.9 GHz band, because life-saving V2X solutions require direct connection with low latency. Other information that is less sensitive to response time, such as weather and traffic conditions, can be shared over 4G or 5G connections.

Smart infrastructure

The V2X RSU or roadside unit is an important part of the V2X ecosystem. It has its own processing power, sends and receives messages. An RSU also acts like a hub for roadside sensors: smart cameras, radars and lidars. These sensors are usually installed by the road infrastructure owner to look at the traffic – from a different angle than cars. RSUs play an important role in recognizing the unconnected traffic participants, particularly the vulnerable road users. 

RSUs has the ability to forward traffic data to the Commsignia Central Data and Device Manager software to enable traffic managers visualizing road events on a map. Central can also be used for device maintenance and V2X message creation.

Several elements of traditional road infrastructure can be linked to the RSUs. For example, traffic light controllers can provide signal phase and timing information via V2X for trucks and normal passenger cars. Moreover, first responders, buses and urban maintenance fleets can even request priority at V2X-enabled intersections. In Denver, Colorado, snowplow trucks cross intersections by requesting a green light, causing less disruption to traffic.

V2X solutions are essential for self-driving vehicles, because messages contain more accurate information than the vehicle’s sensors can detect. In Las Vegas, self-driving taxis are receiving traffic light information from Commsignia RSUs to improve decision making and move through intersections faster.

The evolution of V2X solutions

Security in V2X solutions

The whole V2X system is built up in a way to prevent tracking and protect the users’ privacy. The messages don’t contain personally identifiable information.

The messaging is secure, authenticated by digital signatures. No one wants to see information in a car coming from unknown sources, just as we don’t want to receive spam, scam and phishing emails in our inbox. 

Cars have certificates to prove their authenticity. They have thousands of certificates that frequently change to prevent tracking. The whole certification system has been built up in a way that no one entity, no one authority sees the whole picture. Those who roll out the certificates don’t know which car will get those certificates.

Germany prepares for self driving shuttles

An important bill was passed in the Bundestag last week that allows self driving shuttles – more specifically level 4 autonomous vehicles on public roads, predicting that over time we can really say goodbye to the steering wheel. While personal cars are still not allowed to be driven fully by a computer, self driving shuttles and logistics trucks can drive the streets without a human operator on board. 

Starting in 2022, self-driving in Germany will be geographically limited to certain areas, and the law also contains safeguards. What is particularly interesting from Commsignia’s point of view is that the bill introduces a new legal concept, the technical supervisor. 

Welcome tele-operated driving

According to the bill, a natural person with liabilities related to driving should always be available to deactivate the self-driving vehicle in case of issues. We are talking about a human being who can access, stop and restart the vehicle from a remote location. 

Self-driving fleet operator companies will have to be sure that the vehicles are not only connected to a network, but the operators receive real-time information from the vehicles and they can intervene immediately.

We at Commsignia develop products related to self-driving and vehicle communication. We also have experiences with driverless vehicles: in Las Vegas our V2X roadside units help a robotaxi fleet to navigate the busy streets.

Take a look at our video from Las Vegas, and reach out for our experts for more information.

V2X one of top 3 automotive technologies in the world

The next big thing in connectivity is in vehicle communications, as indicated by a recent McKinsey study showing vehicle-to-everything – V2X – as one of the biggest slices of investments of automotive technologies. 

Almost 18 billion dollars were spent on V2X

It’s the third largest amount after electrification and autonomous technologies. McKinsey doesn’t detail what counts as V2X connectivity, but it certainly includes low latency direct V2X connections for safety and long-range 4G/5G connectivity as well. You can find the full McKinsey study here.

investments into automotive technologies

One thing is for sure: this money was well spent. Automation, the largest driver of investments can only do so much without short-range V2X connectivity. If we want to see fully self-driving cars sharing the roads with conventional, human-driven cars, communication between vehicles is essential. It needs an ultra low latency connection, so vehicles can share information with their surroundings without having to rely on a cellular network.

Then there is the question of peer-to-peer communication. The need to integrate human gestures so that human drivers will understand the intentions of autonomous vehicles. Most of this is traffic safety and efficiency, for both human and algorithmic drivers.

V2X also helps us recognize and react to dangerous situations sooner. A broken-down car on the side of the road tells the system to turn on the fog lights and activate the emergency brakes to avoid a collision. Connecting with the roadside infrastructure allows vehicles to collect data from smart sensors and cameras. This gives drivers access to information from directions that the car’s sensors cannot see.

We can make life-saving decisions about invisible events

The amount of investment spent on V2X may be amazing, but it can also be said about the future it will realize.

We’d love to talk with you about how V2X can change the city you live in. Contact us to discuss the possibilities