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Douglas Stansfield's picture

Self-Driven Car Implementation Hinges on V2V WiFi Spectrum

Self-Driving Cars have been in the news lately and one key ingredient in the mix is becoming an issue. Turns out back in 1999 the FCC granted WiFi Spectrum to the auto industry and now technology has changed everything. At odds are the self-driving cars made by tech industry heavyweights Google and Apple compared to Nissan, Ford, GM and others. The prize now is the WiFi Spectrum and the tech industry has eyes on the automakers allocation.

The players in this fight are some big names. Cisco and tech auto supplier Denso have partnered together and are working on a spectrum sharing tool. The reason this is contested space is because of the rush to self-driving cars which use V2V technology (Vehicle to Vehicle communications).

The DOT announced in May that a rule had been proposed that would require all cars to be equipped with V2V technology. GM has stated that Cadillacs would be equipped with the technology with the 2017 model year. The V2V standard is called dedicated short-range communications (DSRC). DSRC is 10 signals a second and Cisco and Denso are going to be testing whether or not shared WiFi would conflict with this standard which has been undergoing testing for the last 10 years within the 5.9GHz band. Cisco-Denso’s plan is to share the entire band.

Qualcomm has a different plan for the Auto Industries WiFi and that is to block off sections of it and allow sharing in part of it but “wall off” a section just for the DSRC communications.
The reason the DOT has given for wanting to implement this technology is because it is projected to decrease the number of crashes and motor vehicle injuries every year. The estimates are significant.

When V2V is coupled with Vehicle to Infrastructure protocols, the following safety implications could be realized according to DOT:

1) could prevent 81 percent of all car crashes involving non-impaired drivers.
2) could prevent 83 percent of light vehicle crashes.
3) could prevent 72 percent of all heavy truck crashes annually.

Congress has even crafted a bill called Wi-Fi Innovation Act which is bipartisan to help clear up the issue. The House and Senate versions are as follows: (H.R. 821, S. 424)

Either way, your next cars will likely be talking to each other and if Google, Apple and Microsoft are all playing in this sandbox things are going to get interesting.

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