Q&A: Building the infrastructure for V2X

Q&A: Building the infrastructure for V2X

ITS America brings together private industry, public agencies and academic institutions in order to create a safer and more efficient transportation system. When it comes to technology and telecoms, Steven H. Bayless is the organization's point person. Before coming to ITS America, Bayless was Presidential Management Fellow in the Secretary of Transportation’s policy office at US DOT headquarters, where he had cabinet-level lead in policy related to research and development, spectrum management and telecommunications policy. His vision is to merge the disparate elements of today's traffic, from cars, trucks and busses to road sensors and signage—and even pedestrians—into one interactive web of communications. (For more on V2X, see Industry insight: Telematics and V2V/V2X technologies.)

First, tell us about your role at ITS America.

My role is to work with the auto and telecommunications industries to help push through this initiative for the Connected Vehicle Program, or vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications and applications.

Do you work with every part of the V2X value chain?

Yes. I work with the automakers and suppliers primarily, but also with manufacturers of roadside equipment, as well as developers of applications and regulators, for example, universities and the U.S. Federal Dept. of Transportation, which includes the Research and Innovative Technology Administration and also the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

From your perspective, do you see a best path forward at this point?

This is an issue hotly debated among folks in the auto industry. It's not quite clear what the path could be, although there are lots of different options. One of the initiatives that the Department of Transportation has put forth is introducing aftermarket devices that provide some safety application capability. The idea behind this is to allow some vehicle-to-vehicle communications using a brought-in device that would allow used passenger cars to provide some functionality to those vehicles right away, rather than to wait for automakers to install capability in new vehicles. Another path is infrastructure, introducing roadside units at intersections running intersection applications to encourage uptake of the technology in vehicles and even perhaps aftermarket devices. Another possible strategy is the inclusion of other types of road users, for example, motorcycles and perhaps pedestrians that might carry dedicated short-range communications capability in their mobile phones. It's my opinion that probably a number of different strategies need to be tried before we're able to get to the tipping point for deployment.

In terms of applications, is there any business model for application developers, outside of selling to the government?

We're hoping that through a combination of different members of the telematics supply chain and mobile ecosystem, there will be opportunities for introducing new applications. And we think there is probably some opportunity for mobility safety applications that the private sector would be able to take advantage of. It remains to be seen, but we think some of the early ones will be safety. We're hoping that OEMs will recognize that. But what needs to be created first, before applications flourish, is a platform. A platform in which everyone is using the same device and therefore applications can be built on top of it. We think there is a huge opportunity for mobile devices as well. Some companies have done some research in shrinking the DSRC radio to work in a mobile device to provide pedestrians with some ability to make themselves visible to other vehicles in an electronic sense.

You mentioned V2X app on mobile phones. Isn't one of the barriers to V2V and V2X the need to install a DSRC modem? We're seeing, in infotainment, the mobile phone remaining a primary way to get applications into the car. Might mobile phones eliminate the need for special modems installed in cars?

Most folks involved in the program don't think mobile phones would be perfect substitutes for a factory-installed system. I believe that there are a lot more applications that can be supported from an OEM-installed system than could be supported from a mobile device system. Mobile devices are more constrained in terms of capability, the accuracy of GPS, and they are battery-constrained and don't have as much power. They might not be able to operate over as long a period of time. There are tradeoffs between OEM systems and aftermarket or mobile device. The tradeoffs will be in the capability of the applications, but we are just at the beginning of understanding what those might be.

While US DOT does the Safety Pilot, automakers are coming out with advanced safety systems. Do you think this kind of innovation may obviate the need for V2V and V2X?

I don't think they will necessarily obviate the need. For example, forward collision warning is a very common application you can see in luxury vehicles right now. That's an application that is also vehicle-to-vehicle. Whether you do it using DSRC, V2X or radar, maybe it doesn't make that much of a difference. The potential for V2X is much greater than the potential for some of these other technologies, which are more single-purpose and more expensive. We think that V2X will be able to create a platform that will allow many more crash-avoidance and mobility applications to be supported simultaneously.

Susan Kuchinskas is a regular contributor to TU.

Listen to a podcast with Steven H. Bayless: Podcast: Building the infrastructure for V2X.

For more on V2X, see Industry insight: Telematics and V2V/V2X technologies.

For the latest on V2X, visit V2V & V2I for Auto Safety USA 2013 on July 9-10 in Novi, MI.

For all the latest telematics trends, check out Telematics India and South Asia 2013 on April 17-18 in Bangalore, India, Insurance Telematics Europe 2013 on May 7-8 in London, Data Business for Connected Vehicles Japan 2013 on May 15-16 in Tokyo, Telematics Detroit 2013 on June 5-6, Content & Apps for Automotive Europe 2013 on June 18-19 in Munich, Insurance Telematics USA 2013 on September 4-5 in Chicago, Telematics Russia 2013 on September 9-10 in Moscow and Telematics Munich 2013 on November 11-12.

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

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