Building a global market with V2X telematics

Building a global market with V2X telematics

To get the telematics embedded in cars, roads, intersections and tollboothsto talk to each other, the industry is writing a new lexicon called Dedicated Short Range Communications, or DSRC. And there's a jambalaya of acronymic organizations working on bits and pieces of DSRC.

There's the Crash Avoidance Metrics Partnership (CAMP), a research consortium of eight automobile manufacturers; the OmniAir Consortium, which works for open, effective, and interoperable advanced transportation technologies for intelligent highway systems; the Connected Vehicle Trade Association, formed to advance the interests of industries and organizations involved in vehicle communications; and the Vehicle Infrastructure Integration Consortium, tasked by the US Department of Transportation (DOT) with developing a DSRC solution.

These groups are using the concept of a protocol stack, according to John Kenney, senior research engineer, Toyota InfoTechnology Center, USA, a CAMP participant. "A protocol stack is a way of dividing up the problem into manageable pieces," Kenney says.

At the bottom of this protocol stack is the IEEE 802.11p amendment for wireless access in vehicular environments (WAVE). This is a specific flavor of wifi modified for use in DSRC, Kenney says.

WAVE defines an architecture and a complementary, standardized set of services and interfaces to enable secure V2V and V2I wireless communications. It provides the foundation for not only safety but also automated tolling, enhanced navigation, and traffic management. In the middle of the protocol stack are IEEE 1609.2, 1609.3, and 1609.4 standards for Security, Network Services and Multi-Channel Operation.

In the upper part of the protocol stack, close to where Kinney says CAMP will stop standardizing and let OEMs make their own decisions, are two SAE standards. The SAE J2735 Message Set Dictionary is a complete list of all messages, data frames, and data elements used in the message set.

This will standardize messages sent over the air, so that when one car emits an ‘I am here’ message, a car from a different manufacturer will be able to understand it. The emerging SAE J2945.1 Communication Minimum Performance Requirements standard defines other rules, including how accurate the data has to be, according to Kenney. This standard hasn't been completed.

Differentiation at the top

Within these standards, there will be room for some differentiation by different manufacturers of cars and systems. "In standards groups and in the consortium, we always try to pay attention to that. We work together on pre-competitive things and leave to the side things we might compete on," Kenney says.

The closer you get to the driver, the less standardization there will be, according to Kenney. The human/machine interface (HMI)—what consumers actually see and interact with—will be the primary differentiator.

"Standards are being put into place in the way cars exchange messages, so that each vehicle has information about other vehicles around them. We are not telling the receiving vehicle what exactly it should do with those messages," Kenney says. (For more on HMI, see Telematics and digital displays: The case for context-aware HMIsand Integrating telematics and augmented reality; for exclusive business insights into HMIs, download Human Machine Interface Technologies.)

For example, collision avoidance systems need to be able to detect any other car. But the car OEM may choose to alert the driver via a beep or a spoken warning, or it might override steering or apply the brakes automatically.

An OEM could also create an application that analyzed incoming information about the proximity of other vehicles to predict whether there might be a blind spot problem or a side swipe.

Gap analysis

Scott J. McCormick, president of the Connected Vehicle Trade Association, says standards for one sector don't necessarily need to be developed out of thin air. Instead, the industry should engage in gap analysis: looking at all the standards already ratified by the IEEE, SAE and other bodies, and then figuring out if you can adapt them or modify them before creating a new one.

For example, the Vehicle Infrastructure Integration Consortium (VIIC), spent $50 million of DOT money to determine how DSRC could fit in a common framework. "Well, TIA has a standard already on wireless spectrum. Does that work for you? We didn't know they had it," McCormick says.

"If you don't meet the standards, you should not be supplying devices to this ecosystem, especially if they're being used for safety," says Timothy McGuckin, executive director of the OmniAir Consortium, the group working on interoperability for intelligent highway systems. "But standards alone don’t ensure interoperability."

For example, the State of California's Title 21 mandates a statewide specification for electronic toll collection. However, according to McGuckin, both of the state's vendors interpreted the standard differently in their labs.

The resulting devices do conform to the standard, but they can't communicate with the other vendor's readers. The buzzword for making different technical implementations of the same standard work with each other is "harmonization."


Vann Wilber, senior partner of Global Technical Policy Associates and policy program manager for VIIC, says VIIC is working with government officials and automakers to harmonize global standards. The focus, he says, is to determine, "What changes do I have to make to my product to distribute overseas? Let's look at specific standards and see if we can converge them."

There are many possible standards, Wilber says, so it's important for companies to keep track of which standards may evolve into industry guidelines: "At this point, there are no regulations, so getting technical standards in place ahead of regulation is a priority."

In addition to standardizing the vehicle-to-vehicle ‘here I am’ message, there needs to be agreement on the level of accuracy for reporting vehicle position or speed. Once that's done, businesses can develop their crash-avoidance software and services. Another area is developing a common security strategy.

CAMP and US DOT have research initiatives on harmonization, according to Wilber. "The CAMP technical folks are looking at critical data elements and asking, 'Do all of them need to be exactly the same? Is there a subset that's really important?'" Wilber says, "It's all aimed at the goal of being as common a software package as you can get."

Harmonization is also an alternative to standardization. "Harmonization is about two or more players sitting down together, each with a specific standard on the same subject, and then deciding to modify their standards so they require the same data format or whatever," explains Richard Bishop, principal of Bishop Consulting.

For example, a European and a US supplier might set similar or identical requirements for positioning accuracy so that the same GPS hardware could be used in either region.

"This might be confusing because, in the ideal world, there would only be one standard,” says Bishop. “But in this world, there are different standards bodies, and players in various regions adhere to standards from their regional standards bodies. So rather than try to force a single worldwide standard, they instead sit down together to harmonize their standards."

Working together

OmniAir advocates for interoperability assurance, a level of compliance above technical standards that gives suppliers and customers the assurance that when they deploy systems, they will work together, something that will be critical as cars from diverse manufacturers take their places in V2X networks.

While some people dismiss interoperability as resulting in lower quality technology or products, McGuckin thinks that collaboration on interop will make a bigger market for everyone, because it reduces risk for customers, such as departments or transportation or municipalities that are testing such systems.

OmniAir has a contract from the USDOT to evaluate different methods for assessing and/or certifying V2X products as interoperable.

They include simply letting the manufacturer provide a statement of interoperability, second-party assessment by the procurer or buyer, and assessment by an independent third party.

No matter what method is chosen, McGuckin says, "Assurance or certification provides a lower-risk environment for operators that may get only one chance to deploy this."

OmniAir is planning an interoperability assurance mechanism to be used in the Safety Pilot Model Deployment, which begins August 2012 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Wannabe suppliers take note: You will have to run through this qualification apparatus in order to be placed on the qualified products list for the model deployment.


Susan Kuchinskas is a regular contributor to TU.


For more all the latest telematics trends, visit Consumer Telematics Show 2012 on Jan. 9, 2012 in Las Vegas, V2X Safety & Mobility 2012 USA on March 20-21 in Novi, MI, Content & Apps for Automotive 2012 on April 18-19 in Munich, Germany, and Telematics Detroit 2012 on June 6-7, 2012.

For exclusive telematics business analysis and insight, check out TU’s reports on In-Vehicle Smartphone Integration Report, Human Machine Interface Technologies and Smart Vehicle Technology: The Future of Insurance Telematics

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