Ford Motor Company and Volkswagen’s Audi brand, in conjunction with Qualcomm and the 5G Automotive Association, demonstrated a new vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communications system recently, Roadshow reports. The system represents an important step forward for vehicle safety and transit efficiency, both because of its capabilities and because, unlike other proprietary, automaker-specific systems, this one spans more than one marque.
Qualcomm first unveiled the chipset for this V2X communications system last September, a couple of months before Ford announced it had partnered with the semiconductor and telecommunications hardware company to help develop the technology. Currently, it uses 5.9GHz “Dedicated Short-Range Communications” channels to allow vehicles to communicate with other vehicles and infrastructure within close proximity; in the future, it will also be able to use the emerging 5G (fifth-generation) wireless network for longer-distance communications.
One day, it could even allow vehicles to communicate with pedestrians – or at least, pedestrian devices such as bicycles.
Needless to say, the potential implications of V2X communications are massive. Audi and Ford’s demonstration involved vehicles from both automakers sending and receiving signals about drivers turning corners and braking – potentially useful information that could help mitigate the risk of collisions in many situations. In the future, V2X-equipped cars might also be able to communicate with traffic lights, emergency vehicles, cyclists, and other relevant devices on the Internet-of-Things (IoT), allowing vehicles to be kept in the loop when, say, a light is about to turn red, an ambulance is approaching, or a cyclist is about to cross an intersection. The technology is seen as vital to the fully-autonomous vehicles of tomorrow, and hugely important even to the human-driven cars of today.
It’s easy to see how, if each automaker had its own system, the benefits would be quite limited. But Ford’s partnering with Qualcomm, Audi, and the 5G Automotive Association could be the start of a near-universal system that covers most popular marques.
According to Qualcomm, the technology could be ready for production by as early as 2020.