Clickability tracking pixel

San Diego Is Set to Become a Connected Vehicle Testbed

A new pilot project will focus mostly on evaluating the technology, known as Cellular Vehicle to Everything, in connected roadside infrastructure, such as stoplights and traffic monitoring devices.

by Mike Freeman, The San Diego Union-Tribune / July 24, 2020
Shutterstock/streetlucifer

(TNS) — Wireless technology for that enables cars to communicate directly with each other, traffic signals and other roadside monitoring gear hasn't gained much traction to date.

But vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure links could become a central feature of connected cars in the future, helping reduce accidents, ease traffic jams and accelerate the roll out of autonomous driving.

A new program in San Diego could help prove the effectiveness of one version of this vehicle-connectivity technology supported by Qualcomm.

Under the umbrella of the San Diego Regional Proving Grounds — a U.S. Department of Transportation designated regional test-bed for highly automated and self-driving vehicles — Caltrans, the San Diego San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) and other local agencies will work with Qualcomm to test Cellular Vehicle to Everything technology on local roads.

The pilot will focus mostly on evaluating the technology, known as C-V2X, in connected roadside infrastructure, such as stoplights and traffic monitoring devices.

"Part of this is to get Caltrans familiar with this technology," said Jim Misener, senior director of product management for Qualcomm, "because if cars have this, they need something to talk on to day one. And the road infrastructure operators have a big voice."

The project will last through the rest of this year along a three-mile stretch of highways and traffic light intersections off Interstate-805 and State Route 52 between Sorrento Valley and Kearny Mesa.

Caltrans vehicles will be used in the project after being equipped with onboard C-V2X devices from Qualcomm.

Qualcomm also is participating in C-V2X trials in Colorado and Virginia. Examples of how the technology might be used include traffic signal timing, where drivers get a countdown to a green light.

It could help motorists with blind spot warnings, optimal speed in poor weather, curve speed warnings and merging vehicle alerts.

Eventually, the technology could send smartphone warnings to pedestrians at crosswalks of fast-moving vehicles, or let drivers know when they're approaching cyclists.

Lessons from the C-V2X pilot will provide "vital data we need to incorporate these emerging concepts into the transportation planning that SANDAG is doing for the region," said SANDAG Chair and Poway Mayor Steve Vaus. "In particular, testing like this can determine how technology will be incorporated into the regional transportation plan."

C-V2X has been adopted as the vehicle communications standard in China, and Ford said it will include the technology in its vehicles by 2022. Qualcomm also is working with Audi and other car makers.

There is a competing technology. Dedicated Short-Range Communications has been around for 20 years to enable vehicle to vehicle communication. But it has evolved slowly and is not widely deployed. Late last year, the Federal Communications Commission reduced the amount of airwave spectrum earmarked for DSRC to make more bandwidth available for Wi-Fi – a move opposed by U.S. Department of Transportation.

At the same time, the FCC carved out a chunk of airwave spectrum for C-V2X.

"This program is part of a drumbeat that (C-V2X) is becoming more and more the technology of choice," said Misener. "Clearly, there are debates. Those debates will be settled in coming months by the FCC."

©2020 The San Diego Union-Tribune, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

E.REPUBLIC Platforms & Programs