Weekly Brief: ITS World Congress spotlights V2X opportunity in ancient cities

In this week’s Brief: Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) World Congress, PSA Peugeot Citroën, u-blox, Cohda Wireless, Siemens, NXP Semiconductors, Cohda Wireless, BMW, Yamaha, Honda, BMW, Daimler, Audi, German Federal Cartel Office, TomTom, California Department of Motor Vehicles, Consumer Watchdog, Porsche, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Defence Research and Development Canada.

Old cities can be smart too — that was the major takeaway from the Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) World Congress in Bordeaux, France, last week. While ITS harness the latest software to help vehicles and infrastructure communicate, they often need to be integrated into cities that are hundreds, if not thousands, of years old. Layering new technology into legacy infrastructure, rather than building everything anew, is imperative if smart cities are to become a reality anytime soon.

As a sign of the growing awareness of ITS, the attendance list in Bordeaux surpassed 10,000, with a mix of city representatives from around the world, researchers and companies demonstrating or debuting their latest ITS solutions.

One of PSA Peugeot Citroën's four autonomous vehicles travelled the motorway from Paris to Bordeaux to take part in ITS. The 580km trip was completed entirely in autonomous mode, without driver involvement. The car autonomously adjusted its speed and changed lanes to overtake, taking into account other vehicles, speed limits and infrastructure.

In July 2015, the PSA Group became the first carmaker to obtain the relevant authorisations to carry out open road tests using four autonomous prototypes and some fifteen such models in 2016.

Many of these were highly specific to the industry — e.g. u-blox will now manufacture the THEO?P1 Cohda Wireless short-range V2X radio module —but a couple of items spoke to a larger audience:

Siemens, the largest engineering company in Europe, announced that it will start integrating vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2X) transmitters into much of its transport infrastructure, like overhead sign gantries and traffic lights. These transmitters will broadcast information about speed limits, warnings of icy roads and other dangerous situations to cars with compatible receivers in their on-board units. Siemens will partner with NXP Semiconductors and Cohda Wireless for the technology.

Motorcycles also want in on the V2X game and three major manufacturers — BMW, Yamaha and Honda — formed a Connected Motorcycle Consortium to expedite the process. The goal is to have cooperative-intelligent transportation systems (C-ITS) ready for implementation in bikes and scooters by 2020. The big three invited other manufacturers to join them.

In other news, BMW,Daimler and Audi cleared the final hurdle in their acquisition of Nokia HERE. Germany’s competition regulator (The Federal Cartel Office) ruled that the acquisition was legal, as it a) wouldn’t systematically preclude other carmakers from getting future access to mapping info and b) wouldn’t squeeze HERE rival TomTom out of the market by denying it access to other carmakers. So it’s official: Nokia HERE is now a car-consortium-owned company. 

Every accident that an autonomous car has in California will now be posted on the California Department of Motor Vehicles website. This is a win for the consumer advocacy group Consumer Watchdog, which argues that the general public has too little visibility into the performance of robot cars that are being piloted on public roads, impacting public safety in the process. Self-driving cars have been involved in nine crashes since September 2014 — most of these from human drivers rear-ending the autonomous vehicles, thinking they would turn sooner than expected.

Porschechose Apple CarPlay over Android Auto for its 2017 Porsche 911 model. Motor Trends reported that it was because Porsche was uncomfortable with the level of data collection. Google was none too pleased about this and pointed out that Android Auto collects zero critical car data. Porsche declined to make a public statement, so who knows what’s true. One thing’s for certain: Android Auto won’t be on the 2017 Porsche, while Apple CarPlay will be.

If you can’t beat ’em, hire ’em. That seems to be the mentality of the Canadian military, which is offering to pay a hacker to hack into its new light-duty truck to improve the vehicle’s software security. We’re not talking peanuts here, either. Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC) is offering $158,000 for the main gig with an additional $477,000 on the line for future work.

"Cyberattacks on information technologies like personal computers and servers usually result mostly in immaterial damages, like the loss, the alteration or the theft of information or money," says the DRDC. "In the case of vehicular systems, cyberattacks are a more important concern since the safety of their users or other users on the road might be at stake."

The Weekly Brief is a round-up of the week’s top telematics news, combining TU analysis with information from industry press releases.

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