December 13, 2013

The Potential Impact of NHTSA’s Year-End V2X Decision 
By Brian Daugherty

The worldwide automotive industry is currently working hard to refine and globally harmonize Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) and Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) communication – commonly known as V2X. This technology will improve driver awareness – including collision, hazardous road and curve speed warnings and traffic flow information – and is considered an important step in the effort to reduce traffic accidents and fatalities.

Visteon is involved in researching and developing V2X technology, and is a supplier to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Safety Pilot Model Deployment. We’re closely watching – and involved in – various developments and milestones that will determine how quickly the industry moves toward V2X deployment. 

ITS World Congress

At the October Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) World Congress in Tokyo, V2X dominated the discussions. An annual gathering of ITS leaders from around the globe, the World Congress tends to focus on the “next big thing” in technology, and this year it was V2X and autonomous vehicles.  Discussions among industry experts revolved around the global standardization of V2X communications and message sets.  This will result in more cost-effective systems, since auto suppliers will be able to manufacture one V2X module and adapt it to different countries by using slightly different software. 

NHTSA Decision Imminent

In the U.S., we are awaiting the highly anticipated year-end announcement from NHTSA regarding the future of V2X, and we are hopeful that NHTSA will move toward deployment. The six-month extension of the Ann Arbor (Mich.) Safety Pilot in August is considered a positive sign. A few big issues are still being sorted out, including the transfer and handling of electronic “certificates” that ensure privacy and security; however, those can be resolved in the timeframe between the decision point and deployment. Over the last two years, a number of technical issues have been resolved, including my initial fear of system overload if too many vehicles were communicating near one another at the same time. The technology has proven to be quite robust and various “congestion” algorithms have been tested to further reduce the problem.  

FCC Spectrum Issues

Another issue facing V2X in the U.S. is the potential “sharing” of radio spectrum previously dedicated to automotive safety communications. The FCC and Congress are exploring the possibility of opening up the 5.9 GHz spectrum to unlicensed devices (such as Wi-Fi®) – which would be expected to turn off if they detect V2X congestion. This will be very difficult to do in practice, since their interference with V2X communications would occur before they were able to switch modes or stop transmitting. Wi-Fi® should not be allowed to compete with vehicle safety. We need to reserve the vehicle safety communication spectrum for just that – occupant safety. If potential interference is allowed, it will make V2X less capable and less valuable to U.S. drivers.  

A positive NHTSA decision toward deployment will help provide protection for the 5.9 GHz spectrum and provide the framework for the automotive industry to move forward with an important advance in vehicle safety. V2X communication will take years to reach its full potential, but because that potential is so big – we must start down that road now.

Brian Daugherty is an associate director at Visteon Corporation and has global responsibilities for corporate advanced development and intellectual property. Recent projects in his 23-year career include V2X communications, advanced driver awareness systems (ADAS) and the optimization of Visteon’s patent portfolio. Based at Visteon’s corporate offices and innovation center in Van Buren Township, Mich., Daugherty also manages a number of industry and university partnerships.