Connected Cars Star at 1st Mobile World Congress Americas


"Modern vehicles are becoming computers on wheels. High-end cars nowadays consist of up to 100 Electronic Control Units (ECUs) running close to 100 million lines of code. The software distributed on different ECUs exchange thousands of signals. The applications running on the ECUs range from safety-critical control systems to data-intensive multi-media application and to comfort-related functions," says Dr. Prof. Samarjit Chakraborty, who chairs the Real-Time Computer Systems division of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the Technical University of Munich in Germany.


The telecommunications industry is at the core of these global moves towards driverless, smart and connected vehicles, and cross-industry partnerships are flourishing to deliver these next generation vehicles.


Networking, partnerships and information exchange will go into high gear at the upcoming Connected Vehicles Summit on September 14 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, California.


This seven-hour conference is just a small part of the first-ever GSMA Mobile World Congress Americas, organized in partnership with CTIA, a U.S. wireless communications industry trade group. It's an indication of how excited the telecommunications industry is about the fast-evolving field of connected vehicles.



Driverless vehicles communicating with each other and with roadside infrastructure
(Photo courtesy U.S. Department of Transportation)


The GSMA (Groupe Spéciale Mobile Association) was formed in 1995. With headquarters in London, GSMA is working with mobile operators, automakers and suppliers, industry associations, and regulatory bodies worldwide to unlock the potential of the connected vehicle market with a standardized and collaborative approach.


Through the Connected Vehicle Summit, the GSMA is bringing together mobile operators with automotive industry players to discuss the future of the connected vehicle market, including Cellular Vehicle-to-Everything (Cellular V2X), the evolution of today’s networks to 5G, autonomous vehicles, security and regulation.


5G, or 5th generation mobile networks, are the proposed next telecommunications standards beyond the current 4G standards. 5G can use more frequency bands than 3G and 4G, and has a focus on speed, so messages can be sent to a vehicle almost instantly.


5G planning aims at higher capacity than the current 4G, allowing a higher density of mobile broadband users, lower latency than 4G equipment and lower battery consumption, and supporting device-to-device, ultra reliable machine communications.


These considerations are essential to the development of the connected vehicle market, and will be central to discussions at the Connected Vehicle Summit in San Francisco.


Connected vehicles is one of the highest growth areas of the Internet of Things (IoT), with a potential application revenue of US$253 billion by 2025, according to a 2017 study by Machina Research.



Pierce Owen, IoT Analyst at Machina Research, said, “Mobile Network Operators are now doing far more than simply providing connectivity in this interesting ecosystem. They have acquired companies and worked with strategic partners to develop end-to-end solutions consisting of secure platforms, applications and data analytics for OEMs. Global leaders such as Vodafone, AT&T and others realize that connectivity still matters, but the ecosystem being built around it carries much more value."


More than 1,000 companies will participate at Mobile World Congress Americas 2017. Companies on the show floor will be Amdocs, AT&T, Ericsson, Gemalto, Giesecke & Devrient, Huawei, Mannopov, Mobilitie, Nokia, PayPal, Qualcomm, Rohde & Schwarz, Safran Identity and Security, Samsung Electronics America, Samsung Electronics Networks, Sprint, Syniverse Technologies, TELUS, TracFone Wireless, Twilio, Verizon, VMware and ZTE.


There will be country pavilions, among them: Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Greece, India, Pakistan, South Korea and the United States.


The GSMA Innovation City will make its Americas debut, enabling attendees to experience technology in context and see how mobile-connected products and services can improve the daily lives of citizens and businesses, in industrial applications as well as apps for automotive, home, health and agriculture.


Qualcomm's New Cellular-V2X Chipset Turns Heads


Just ahead of the GSMA Connected Vehicles Summit, Qualcomm Technologies is debuting a C-V2X chipset and reference design that has attracted a lot of attention in the automotive industry.


“Today’s introduction of the Qualcomm 9150 C-V2X chipset builds on our leadership in automotive technologies, demonstrating our continued commitment to design and offer advanced solutions for safe, connected and increasingly autonomous vehicles,” said Nakul Duggal, vice president of product management, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.


“With its strong synergy with telematics and an evolution towards 5G, C-V2X offers benefits to the automotive industry by developing new capabilities for improving road safety, and enhancing autonomous driving and advanced connected services, while building on the ITS momentum and investments made over the last decade," said Duggal.


"C-V2X is expected to support safer roads, increase productivity and decrease traffic congestion," he said. "We look forward to seeing our 9150 C-V2X chipset play a key role in assisting the global market to achieve these benefits."


As C-V2X continues to gain momentum, the automotive industry and broad ecosystem for the technology continues to grow and work together.



Qualcomm's vision of connected vehicle safety enhancements.
(Infographic courtesy Qualcomm)


Auto manufacturers continue to express their support and commitment in helping drive the commercialization of the technology for enhanced safety, advanced services and new applications in next-generation vehicles.


“Qualcomm Technologies’ anticipated 9150 C-V2X chipset serves as a major milestone in paving the road for 5G and safer autonomous driving,” said Dr. Thomas Müller, head of electrics/electronics, Audi. “As C-V2X continues to serve as an essential ingredient for enhanced safety for next-generation vehicles, Qualcomm Technologies’ 9150 C-V2X chipset will certainly help accelerate the adoption and deployment of C-V2X technologies.”


“Ford is committed to V2X communications and sees it as a critical technology to improve vehicle safety and efficiency,” said Don Butler, executive director, connected vehicle and services, Ford Motor Company, who will be a speaker at the Connected Vehicles Summit next week.


“We welcome Qualcomm Technologies’ cellular-V2X product announcement, as the automotive industry and ecosystem work towards C-V2X implementation, and pave the path to 5G broadband and future operating services,” said Butler.


Carla Gohin, senior vice president, head of innovation, Groupe PSA, said, “We are pleased to see C‐V2X gaining momentum and broad ecosystem support, and how Qualcomm Technologies has helped the automotive industry make great strides in bringing this to fruition, including the announcement of the 9150 C-V2X chipset."


“Groupe PSA is strongly involved in the 5G standardization and trials and has great expectations on 5G as an enabler for the connected and autonomous vehicles," Gohin said.


“SAIC has always attached great importance to the development and application of new technologies," said Dr. Liu Fen, director of intelligent driving, research and advanced technology department, SAIC.


"As vehicles become increasingly intelligent, it’s critical that our vehicles are equipped with premium-tier technologies to provide seamless communication between the vehicle and the roadway and beyond,” Dr. Fen said. “We deem C-V2X technologies as the best choice, and look forward to utilizing these technologies in V2X.


C-V2X’s technologies encompass two transmission modes - direct communications and network-based communications. They are designed to complement other Advanced Driver Assistance Systems sensors, such as cameras, radar and LIDAR, to provide information about the vehicle’s surroundings.


Designing Future Cars as Energy Misers


Americans use a lot of energy to move themselves and their things. Over one quarter of all the energy consumed in the United States goes directly to transportation, equal to about 4.8 billion barrels of oil a year.


The U.S. Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy, known as ARPA-E, is acting on the belief that with this much energy in play, there are opportunities to make big improvements.


And eventually, cars will outgrow the need for a human driver.


ARPA-E Program Director Dr. Jason Rugolo calls the rise of fully self-driving vehicles, "the largest upheaval in mobility since the invention of the automobile" that could have "enormous implications for our economy and energy use."


"Autonomous vehicles could one day rule our highways. But as driving requires increasingly less human intervention, people could become more comfortable with much longer commutes on more congested roads - threatening to undo the energy benefits of a driverless system," he said.


As vehicles become safer, it is possible they will begin traveling at much higher speeds. "Due to the way a car moves through air, faster travel means using much more energy per mile," Dr. Rugolo points out.


"Simultaneously increasing vehicle miles traveled and the fuel intensity of those miles could dramatically increase the amount of energy consumed for transportation," he said.


Inevitably, ways of designing safe, fast, and energy-efficient self-driving cars will change, Dr. Rugolo believes.


"As driverless technology improves, there are many opportunities to build cars that are lighter and more aerodynamic," he says. "A car that never crashes might not need a heavy steel structure around its occupants. A car without a steering wheel might not require the extra wide, two-by-two seating arrangement in almost every automobile today."

What’s needed, Dr. Rugolo argues, is a ground-up design approach for self-driving cars based on core principles: safe, comfortable, fast, and affordable, while considering efficiency.


Two ARPA-E programs, TRANSNET and NEXTCAR, use connected vehicles, cloud computing, and emerging vehicle control technologies to redefine the movement of people and goods.


TRANSNET projects take the principle of optimization and apply it to the transportation sector, encouraging people to choose the best mode of travel for their journey, whether it be a personal car, the subway, or a bike share.


Huge amounts of data are processed to model a city's or region’s entire transportation network. Scientists at the Georgia Tech Research Corporation are conducting analysis of real-time transportation network data and combining it with detailed simulations.


Using this information, the team hopes to offer drivers on-the-road tips to reduce energy consumption as they travel.The data can identify traffic accidents and recurring congestion areas and provide drivers suggestions for altering departure times, routes, or changing their mode of transport, without increasing the time or cost of the trip.


ARPA-E's NEXTCAR projects will put traffic aware cruise control, emergency braking, and limited self-driving on congested roads to work cutting individual vehicle energy use by 20 percent.


By creating systems that allow these smart tools to communicate with the engine, transmission and some vehicle controls, NEXTCAR technologies can begin predicting road and traffic conditions up ahead, allowing a driver and/or vehicle to react to upcoming events most efficiently.



What Could Possibly Go Wrong?


Roger Lanctot, writing on the Strategy Analytics website in August, points out that, "The millions of lines of code in cars that we hear so much about – more code than a 747, the space shuttle, or a fighter jet," means that "There are many more opportunities in cars today for things to go wrong as software takes over an ever-expanding array of functionality, from the car stereo to enhanced safety systems and the vehicle powertrain."


There are software bugs, updates, conflicts and cybersecurity vulnerabilities to worry about, writes Lanctot, so it is also  software is figuring in vehicle recalls.


In the latest update of software-based recalls from CX3 Marketing, the number of software-based recalls was up again in 2016, surpassing six million vehicles.


"This expanding crisis in vehicle recalls is both good news and bad news for the automotive industry," writes Lanctot.


The good news is that over-the-air software updates can often correct the issues..


The bad news is that automakers are in the very earliest stages of deploying software updating technology. In the United States they have yet to sort out conflicts with state-level dealer franchise laws that require warranty service work such as software updates be handled by dealers.


Car enthusiasts have taken issue with the ownership question, explains Lanctot. They assert their right to modify vehicle software as they see fit. This struggle is yet to be resolved but has intensified as more geeks experiment with self-driving car technology.


For automakers, self-driving car technology has brought with it "a wave of in-sourcing of software development even as external development activities have grown," writes Lanctot.


Tier 1 suppliers have made strategic acquisitions (Continental/Elektrobit, Harman/Symphony Teleca, Panasonic/OpenSynergy) to shore up their coding resources, writes Lanctot, even as original equipment manufacturers have made acquisitions and investments intended to expand in-house capabilities.


Cars Navigate With Ground-Penetrating Radar



A life-saving technology has been developed that allows driverless vehicles to navigate using subsurface geology.


Engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Lincoln Laboratory, who developed the technology, called localizing ground-penetrating radar (LGPR), have shown that features in soil layers, rocks, and road bedding can be used to localize vehicles to centimeter-level accuracy.


The LGPR has been used for lane keeping even when snow, fog, or dust obscure aboveground features.


"This technology could significantly impact the self-driving vehicle industry," says Byron Stanley, the lead researcher on the LGPR program.


"Most autonomous vehicles rely on optical systems that 'see' road surfaces and surrounding infrastructure to localize themselves. Optical systems work well in fair weather conditions, but it is challenging and risky for them to work when snow covers lane markings and road surfaces or fog obscures points of reference."


"Even in fair conditions, having an independent sensor to rely on when your optics aren't working could add several orders of magnitude to the reliability of current autonomous lane keeping systems," said Stanley. "This technology can save lives."


In July, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's (MIT) Lincoln Laboratory reached an agreement with Geophysical Survey Systems, Inc. (GSSI) to develop commercial prototypes of the technology.


The LGPR sensor uses high-frequency radar reflections of underground features to generate a baseline map of a road's subsurface.


The idea is that whenever an LGPR vehicle drives along a road, the data can be used as a reference map. An LGPR vehicle on subsequent passes compares its current map against the reference map.


The reference map can be correlated with the current map to create an estimate of the vehicle's location. This localization has been demonstrated to be accurate to within a few centimeters, in real-time and at highway speeds, even at night in snow storms.


During the 2017 Automated Vehicles Symposium held July 11-13 in San Francisco, Stanley and David Cist, vice president of R&D at GSSI, showcased the LGPR concept and capabilities in a poster session on July 11 and in a "deep dive" discussion session the next afternoon.



A localizing ground-penetrating radar system from the MIT Lincoln Laboratory
complements existing technology, with the goal of achieving safe autonomous vehicles.
(Photo courtesy MIT researchers)


Stanley and his team are working with GSSI to study the long-term stability of the subterranean maps. Deep subsurface features mapped by LGPR should be immune to aboveground changes that can compromise optical sensors. Assessments of LGPR's accuracy over six-month and 12-month periods show that the maps of primary roads remain valid.


Cist confirms these results, saying, "For many years, our final validation of all antennas has been to run the same test path over the same road outside our facilities. Although our data show seasonal variability, the results clearly remain stable over decades."


LGPR complements most sensors guiding self-driving vehicles. It is robust under conditions that pose difficulties for GPS, lidar, or camera sensors such as in tunnels, canyons, snow, ice, fog, dust, dirt, lighting changes, and dynamic environments.


And LGPR is immune to changes in the aboveground environment, where landmarks are torn down or obscured, road markings fade, and signs are moved.


Because of its simple design, the LGPR could be mass-produced for $300 or less the developers estimate. As a low-cost addition to sensor suites, LGPR will make autonomous vehicles safer and more capable.


GSSI will build and sell the prototype LGPR systems. While developers of self-driving cars are likely the initial customers, companies providing equipment and services for trucking, construction, mining, and agriculture may also be interested in LGPR capabilities.


By Sunny Lewis

Editor in Chief,  Environment News Service (ENS)