The future of 5G connected cars

Infineon / Mitsubishi / Fuji / Semikron / Eupec / IXYS

The future of 5G connected cars

Posted Date: 2024-02-05

element14 technical team


The use of connected cars has grown significantly in recent years. These vehicles are equipped with various sensors to collect data on performance, location and other critical parameters. This data is sent to a central device for processing, thereby improving vehicle performance and reliability. Traditional vehicle tracking and diagnostic systems are challenging in terms of speed, data capacity and connectivity to collect real-time data. Therefore, their effectiveness is limited. Additionally, using traditional cellular networks can result in unreliable communications. 5G communication technology has great advantages, providing faster and more stable connections for real-time vehicle tracking and diagnosis.

connected car

Here are the different types of connected car technology:

• Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I): includes communications between vehicles and road infrastructure to improve traffic flow and safety.
• Vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V): enables communication between vehicles to improve safety by sharing speed, location and other relevant data information.
• Vehicle-to-Cloud (V2C): Various services and application data exchange between vehicles and cloud platforms.
• Vehicle to Pedestrian (V2P): Build a bridge between vehicles and pedestrians to improve road safety awareness.
• Vehicle to Everything (V2X): Contains the overall communication framework, including V2I, V2V, V2C and V2P, creating a comprehensive connectivity ecosystem.
• Vehicles, roadside infrastructure, component equipment or handheld devices are equipped with transceivers.

What kind of transportation experience can we expect in the world of V2X?

Figure 1 shows an ideal example of future personal mobility:

Figure 1: Examples, requirements and design considerations of 5G V2X (Source: Huawei German Research Center)

1. Users can request a ride through the mobile app.
2. The vehicle drives automatically or is remotely controlled by humans or artificial intelligence. Meanwhile, the user's traffic app communicates with the vehicle over the mobile network and can adjust settings on its own.
3. The vehicle has the ability to drive automatically and locate the most suitable vehicle group (fleet) according to the user's preferences. It can maneuver and join a selected convoy while allowing cars to follow at very short intervals, thus saving energy.
4. When driving on congested roads, the vehicle receives and provides real-time traffic information by using two-way navigation.
5. By connecting to the navigation system, users can control the vehicle to exit the highway or choose to drive on a more scenic route.
6. After the vehicle reaches the destination, the user gets off the vehicle.
7. The vehicle can drive itself to an automated parking lot or towards another user.

Omnidirectional antennas and signal strength challenges

Challenges with omnidirectional antennas and signal strength are major obstacles to developing "smart antennas." The effective combination of mobile communication technology and antenna technology is the key to achieving this goal. Traditionally, signals are transmitted from the roof antenna to the on-board electronics via a cable connection typically located in the driver's cabin. However, the surge in bandwidth requirements, especially as 5G networks use a wider frequency range (from 6Ghz to 100Ghz), results in significant loss of signals transmitted over cables. To solve this problem, the electronics and signal processing must be close to the antenna, either directly under the roof of the car or inside the antenna. However, this solution brings new challenges. Exposed electronic devices are affected by different weather conditions, which may affect their performance and service life.

In addition, the expanded frequency range results in increased radio field attenuation and signals can only be received over shorter distances. This is the most direct challenge for omnidirectional antennas: either no signal can be received, or the signal can only be received within a limited range. While precisely aligning antennas can solve this problem, this requires mounting a large number of antennas on the device. Therefore, only the antenna facing the transmitter can be utilized. In addition, roadside must be equipped with directional antennas to effectively transmit signals to passing vehicles.

5G and Cellular IoT

5G technology meets three main categories of services:

• Enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB): This category lays the foundation for immersive in-car experiences such as augmented reality, high-precision digital mapping and continuous firmware updates. These advanced features will drive the need for higher data bandwidth.

• Ultra-reliable low-latency communications (URLLC): This category is critical for mission-critical functions such as vehicle safety systems, vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications (V2X), and autonomous driving. These functions require ultra-reliable and extremely low-latency communications to ensure vehicle performance and safety.

• Massive machine-based communications (mMTC): Numerous sensors in smart cities, homes, and cars generate large amounts of data that must be securely transmitted through gateways to remote services and data servers hosted in the cloud.

Antennas and wireless technologies for 5G

Compared with previous antennas for cellular signals, 5G antennas are typically smaller but offer greater accuracy and lower latency. 5G technology uses smart power switches to optimize beamforming, an active antenna technology that uses directional radio links to selectively deliver high bandwidth to mobile devices simultaneously.

5G antennas and wireless modules support massive multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) systems, enabling directional radio connections between 5G transmitters. The latest 3D and massive MIMO devices operate multiple transmitters and receivers within a single terminal unit, allowing for faster data transmission. Additionally, many 5G antennas are compatible with 4G LTE signals. While most 5G automotive antennas are similar in appearance to 4G antennas, they tend to be smaller and thinner.

5G will enable advanced C-V2X

The application of 5G technology is particularly suitable for cellular V2X (C-V2X) communications. This communication technology enables two-way communication and, with cloud-based sensor sharing, has an effective range of up to 1,000 meters. One of the key advantages of using 5G for C-V2X is its extremely low latency, with response times of just 4 milliseconds or less. By comparison, the 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) standard has latency of 15 milliseconds or less.

The future of 5G in connected cars

Competing standards for V2X are also at play. Two of these standards are described below.

IEEE 802.11p

IEEE 802.11p is a variant of Wi-Fi that operates on the 5.9Ghz unlicensed band and was the basis for the original V2X standard. The technology extends V2X communications beyond the sensor’s line of sight, supporting V2V and V2I applications such as collision warnings, speed limit alerts, electronic parking and toll payments. The advantage of IEEE 802.11p is that it does not rely on cellular network coverage. (This is thanks to On-Board Units (OBU) and Roadside Units (RSU). It has short-range capabilities (less than 1 km) and low latency (about 2 milliseconds), and is highly reliable and able to adapt to extreme weather conditions.

Cellular V2X

C-V2X (or Cellular V2X) is a developing replacement for IEEE 802.11p. C-V2X has two operating modes, covering most possible scenarios. The first is low-latency C-V2X direct communication, which communicates through the PC5 interface on the 5.9Ghz unlicensed band and is used to obtain active safety information such as instant road hazard warnings and other short-range V2V, V2I and V2P situations. This mode is similar to the current IEEE 802.11p technology that also operates in the 5.9Ghz band.

The second mode communicates over the Uu interface or UMTS air interface on conventional licensed band cellular networks and can handle V2N (vehicle-to-network) applications such as infotainment, delay-tolerant alerts about long-distance road hazards, or traffic conditions. . IEEE 802.11p can only match this pattern by establishing temporary connections to roadside base stations.

Figure 2: Network communication for traffic delay tolerant alert prompts

Table 1 below shows the technical advantages of C-V2X compared to IEEE 802.11p

Table 1: Technical advantages of C-V2X compared to IEEE 802.pp

Several development kits, software and company modules are now available for executing designs, developments and projects on 5G technology. element14 works with multiple suppliers to provide a broad portfolio of industrial 5G components that enable the above 5G applications, such as wireless module adapters, antennas, connectors, RF wireless development kits, clock timing development kits, IC modules, debugger simulations processor and JTag tool accessories, interface communication development kit and display development kit.

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