Which radio technology will win the day in the autonomous vehicle future; DSRC (Dedicated Short Range Communications) or 5G (or 5GAA (PDF))? As Brian Daugherty, CTO of the Motor and Equipment Manufacturers Association (MEMA) suggests in the above interview, these different radio technologies are likely to be complementary, fulfilling different needs.
An important premise is that DSRC, which uses 5.85-5.925 GHz, will effectively be another sensor input that a vehicle uses in its decision-making process. That is, like a human driver, the artificial intelligence brains of a vehicle will consider the signals received from other vehicles and infrastructure (e.g. signals, road signs) and compare it to inputs from its on-board sensors (cameras, ultrasound, GPS, Lidar, radar) to decide its next actions.
This sensor fusion approach provides a level of redundancy of inputs and reduces the potential damage from an attempted hacking of the DSRC (e.g. a rogue DSRC radio). Daugherty points out that, a DSRC radio has limited range, so, even if it could be hacked, it would only be able to communicate to a limited number of vehicles.
Still, designing for cybersecurity and privacy has to be a given. Daugherty says that an important design consideration is the creation of an “air gap”, to prevent the possibility that external commands from a hacker could control the operation of a vehicle.
The power of Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) and Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) communications is the network effect, which only occurs when there is a critical mass of vehicles with the capability. The $53B to $71B (estimated societal benefits of safer roads) question, that the NHSTA is trying to decide, is whether to mandate the $135 to $301 DSRC V2V devices on light vehicles (<10k lbs) by 2023.
This is a hotly contested question, as can be seen by the comments both for and against the proposed mandate. Whether a mandate is necessary for DSRC adoption and success remains to be seen. Daugherty suggests a benefit even with a relatively small, 5 to 10% penetration.
With General Motors, voluntarily adopting V2V via DSRC on their CTS Performance Sedan and with strong support from the trade association Global Automakers (with members including Honda, Nissan and Toyota), perhaps the market will lead to the adoption of DSRC, regardless of the NHTSA’s decision.
And to the question of whether DSRC or 5G, Daugherty sums it up well in the above interview suggesting that these different radio technologies are complementary,
“You are going to see a knitting together of these technologies (DSRC and 5G), so that the low-latency things – the collision avoidance – will be handled by V2V and the active sensors on the vehicle. Slightly longer range things, like traffic congestion, other things, will be handled by the LTE and 5G systems of the future…..The DSRC systems will probably use LTE and 5G to do updates to the systems, potentially for security certificate management and updates. I think we will see a lot of synergies between the technologies.”
Some Interesting References: #
In addition to the links referenced in the above text, there are countless articles and comments on this topic. Here are a few that this author found interesting on the topic.