Deploy DSRC now; continue work on CV2X
As the connected-vehicle world moves closer to reality, there has been a growing debate about which is the best technology to facilitate communication between vehicles and between vehicles and the infrastructure, with some lining up firmly behind radio communications known as dedicated short-range communications (DSRC) while other believe the future lies with cellular communications, known as cellular-vehicle to everything (CV2X).
The DSRC world is dependent upon the 5.9 GHz radio spectrum that was allocated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) back in the 1990s for automotive safety. However, the spectrum wasn't used until the Launch of the 2017 Cadillac CTS. Toyota has announced plans to launch in 2021, and so has Volvo.
DSRC also enjoys strong support from the trade association Global Automakers, in which Honda, Nissan and Toyota participate. However, there is a fierce battle going on to reallocate either part or all of the 5.9 GHz band to 5G technology.
The argument is that CV2X is better and faster. However, the challenging fact remains that commercializing CV2X will take time. In fact, it will likely take several more years of development to bring CV2X to the point of viability -- development that is already complete for DSRC.
There, may, though, be an alternative to the either/or scenario: The U.S. DOT recently completed Phase 1 testing that showed DSRC and CV2X devices could work in the same space.
To that end, Qualcomm recently petitioned the FCC to use the upper two channels of the 5.9 GHz spectrum exclusively for CV2X. What wasn't stated was that this will affect the existing DSRC deployment in Ann Arbor.
The Ann Arbor deployment is still the largest connected-vehicle deployment on the planet and is the only one that is interoperable with the vehicles that will be rolling off the assembly line. What we're learning is that we truly need the full spectrum.
We have deployed this way, and if the upper channels are reallocated, we will need to update our network of road-side units (RSUs) -- not an easy task. Wouldn't a better solution be to deploy DSRC now, save lives and prevent injuries now, and work on a solution that involves DSRC and CV2X working in a complimentary fashion rather than this all-or-nothing mentality?
Furthermore, the next step should be a real-world test of CV2X in a DSRC environment, preferably in Ann Arbor. Testing on the bench is one thing, but deploying in a commercial environment is quite another.
Debra Bezzina is
Connected Working Group lead for Mcity and the Managing Director of the Center for Connected and Automated Transportation at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.