V2X on the road with chips, software stacks and design kits

September 28, 2018 Majeed Ahmad, Automotive Contributor

The vehicle-to-everything (V2X) designs are getting real with the availability of chips, software stacks, and evaluation kits while this manifestation of connected car technology eyes real-world applications such as truck platooning, green-light traffic optimization, and emergency braking.

It's worth mentioning that the term V2X encompasses multiple flavors of the connected car maxim: vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications, vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communications, and vehicle-to-pedestrian (V2P) communications. This holistic technology approach allows vehicles to see through almost everything across a distance of more than a mile.

The new solutions are based on the Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC) technology, which is specifically designed for V2X communications as per 802.11p specification. The DSRC protocol provides one dedicated channel for real-time data communications to minimize latency and another channel to ensure the security of the safety messages.

Figure 1. The UBX-P3 chip claims to facilitate V2X features such as blind spot warning, electronic brake assist, and intersection movement assist.

First, Thalwil, Switzerland-based u-blox has unveiled a V2X chip that communicates on two channels. The UBX‑P3 communication chip either transports safety and service messages to bolster the security of connected cars or allows it to simultaneously communicate on the same channel using two antennas, providing vehicles full coverage with no blind spots.

Next, NXP is pairing its V2X single-chip modem with Hitachi Solutions’ software stack to address extensive and costly electronic pre-development work required for implementing DSRC-based V2X services. The design solution for V2X on-board units (OBUs) will be available in Japan by 2019 and in Europe and United States soon after that.

The NXP SAF5400, a single-chip standalone modem, integrates advanced transceiver technology with digital baseband, MAC and firmware. The V2X modem chip employs software defined radio (SDR) technology to ensure support for different regional standards with a single hardware solution. NXP claims its V2X modem chip can verify more than 2,000 messages per second.

Figure 2. The block diagram of NXP's single-chip modem for V2X communications.

An evaluation kit complements NXP's SAF5400 single-chip modem for the development of emerging V2X applications like platooning. The RoadLINK kit comes with a dedicated compensator unit and a reference design for remote second antenna support. It also facilitates testing for RF communications, spectral mask, and output power.

The V2X-based designs are out on the road a little earlier than expected. And that shows how the early doubts about the viability of this connected car technology have been off the mark. Especially the prognosis that DSRC technology would become irrelevant due to 5G's march into the automotive arena.

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