USA shift V2V mandate into gear

USA shift V2V mandate into gear

Feature articles |
By Christoph Hammerschmidt

The U.S. regulator’s notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) will provide a long overdue political push for dedicated short range communications (DSRC) technology, otherwise known as IEEE 802.11p, to be installed in vehicles.

In an interview with EE Times, Lars Reger, Chief Technology Officer of NXP’s Automotive business unit, said the DoT’s proposed rule sends a “strong signal” to the entire automotive community. “Without the legislation, it’s hard to kick start” V2V, he acknowledged. If just a few cars are equipped with V2V, the society as a whole – which wants safer roads – won’t benefit. For V2V to take effect, it needs the industry to come together and generate the network effect.

Ultra-fast response
NXP, together with other DSRC-based V2V proponents, have been preaching that no other technologies now exists that can offer point-to-point communication with ultra-fast reaction time (within a few milliseconds).

While acknowledging DSRC detractors who have been pushing cellular technology for car-to-car talk, Reger said, “Sure, you can use cellular radio to let drivers know that there is a traffic jam 100 meters ahead. But that’s what we call telematics,” a call-and-response system that is far too slow.

Since Feb., 2014 when Secretary Anthony Foxx directed the Department’s National Highway Traffic Safety (NHTSA) to begin work on an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that was issued six months later, NXP was busy with “use cases” of V2V and demonstrating “which technology should be in use,” said Reger.

NXP would like to think, “We’ve earned trust, demonstrated systems that work [on various fields], we’ve developed industrial-grade silicon and it’s in volume production,” he said. More importantly, “this is not a monopoly. NXP isn’t alone. There are other companies also competing on the same DSRC market.”

In short, the DSRC community is arguing to politicians that it has the technology under control, with a host of companies to support it. “We are not trapping politicians” with an untested, undeliverable prospect, Reger explained.

Aside from NXP, designers of DSRC-based V2V chips and systems include Autotalks/STMicroelectronics, Savari, Qulacomm, Cohda Wireless and Renesas.

The notice of proposed rulemaking will be open for public comment for 90 days. According to the DoT, the process from publication of the NPRM to a Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard usually takes about one year. Two years after that the phase-in period begins with half of new vehicles in the first year being affected, 75% in the second year and 100% from the third year on.

NXP expects V2V to become binding in 2019. Noting that carmakers are already getting ready with 2019 model-year cars, Reger said the NPRM issued this week is a great stimulus for V2V chips.

Not done fighting

The NPRM doesn’t necessarily suggest that those who have fought hard to promote the use of cellular technology in V2V, instead of DSRC, are quietly going away.

Asked what will happen between now and the final rule, Drue Freeman, an Advisory Board Member to Savari, Inc., told EE Times, “I do expect a lot of lobbying from the anti-DSRC front during the next 90 days.”

More specifically, Freeman mentioned that “the same people who are pushing hard for everyone to sit back and wait for several years while they create a standard for 5G V2X, start testing against that standard, and build up a sufficient knowledge base to get us in 5 years where we are today with DSRC.”

In short, those in the anti-DSRC camp “are not done fighting,” he said.  “For sure they should keep moving forward with 5G and keep innovating, but we need to get V2V on the road sooner than later.  Even with this Proposed Rule Making, it will be several years before you see widespread deployment of V2V.  It makes no sense to delay things even further.”

Open questions

There are also several open questions in the proposed rule-making. The DoT is using the comment period to solicit feedback, Freeman explained.  

“They are asking for comments on whether the government should certify after-market V2V devices, for example.  Another example: the document puts forward a preferred method for message authentication, but it also outlines a few alternatives and invites readers to provide comments on the merits of the alternative methods.”

Freeman isn’t taking anything for granted. Among comments submitted to the DoT over the next 90 days, he anticipates some to be focused on various technical aspects, “possibly suggesting alternatives to the methods proposed in the document.”

Expecting last-minute wrangling between the DSRC and anti-DSRC camps, he said, “I think it would be a mistake for the pro-DSRC camp to get complacent right now.”

Qualcomm vs. NXP

Qualcomm, a long-time advocate of the cellular technology, has been at odds with NXP over development of DSRC-based V2V technology.

Now that Qualcomm is acquiring NXP, industry insiders are curious to know how the merger would affect policy — DSRC in particular.

Qualcomm once called DSRC a “dead-end” technology. Now it’s saying that it prefers a dual strategy supporting both DSRC and cellular for V2V communication.

NXP’s Reger told EE Times, “It’s not my place to speculate what other companies are thinking about this.” But he quickly added, from “a techie person’s point of view, I know that there is no way around [DSRC]. When ultra-fast communication is demanded for emergency for example, you need direction communication. Otherwise you run the risk of [network] delays.”

In Reger’s view, the merger with Qualcomm will bring “the best-in-class cellular communication technology and ultra-fast direct communication technologies.”

Over time, he sees 802.11p (DSRC) and cellular 4G/5G “blended in a single system.” He said, “Users won’t have to do anything…the system can automatically choose between WiFi (802.11p) and 4G/5G” for appropriate applications.

Meanwhile, NXP is moving forward with further integration of its DSRC chipset. By mid-2018, Reger anticipates NXP to offer a single-die solution featuring “send & receive functions on DSRC” integrated with a crypto chip. Today, NXP is offering the same functions in three dies.


For security and privacy purposes, DSRC-based V2V technology mandates messages sent out of vehicles to be encrypted and messages received to be deciphered and authenticated. “It’s similar to what we do using a Public Key Infrastructure,” said Reger. NXP is implementing DSRC’s security process by using its own crypto chip – tested, proven and widely used in passports and other ID cards.

Junko Yoshida is Chief International Correspondent, EE Times

Related articles:

Algorithm extends scope of V2X

DSRC no dead end, says Autotalks CTO

Carmakers, telecommunications players join forces for 5G development

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