Ford, Qualcomm, AT&T, and Nokia launching autonomous vehicle trials in San Diego region

Trials will begin later this year at the San Diego Regional Proving Ground to speed the development of connected cars and improve automotive safety.

Image: Ford Motor Co.

AT&T, Ford, Nokia, and Qualcomm Technologies, a subsidiary of Qualcomm Inc., are launching Cellular-V2X autonomous vehicle trials at the San Diego Regional Proving Ground later this year in order to demonstrate the potential of C-V2X technologies, including improved automotive safety, automotive driving, and traffic efficiency. The trials are also intended to demonstrate cost-efficient benefits with embedded cellular technology in vehicles in conjunction with cellular base stations and roadside infrastructure.

The San Diego Association of Governments, the California Department of Transportation, the city of Chula Vista, Calif., and intelligent transportation solutions provider McCain Inc. are supporting the trials.

"Leveraging the evolution of embedded cellular technologies for V2X communications holds great potential to advance safety benefits to all road users," said Cameron Coursey, vice president, AT&T Internet of Things Solutions. "Working with industry leaders, such as Ford, Nokia, Qualcomm Technologies, and state and local government agencies, we will together lead the way to safer, more secure, cost-effective, and efficient next-generation solutions."

SEE: Qualcomm, with AT&T, Ford, and Nokia, to test connected car tech in San Diego (ZDNet)

C-V2X is defined by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) as an extension of the global cellular standard and is considered a factor in next-generation wireless technology for automated driving solutions. It uses the 5.9 GHz band without involving a cellular network. C-V2X improves road safety by allowing vehicles to directly communicate with other vehicles, pedestrian devices, and roadside infrastructure such as traffic signs and construction zones.

It complements other Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) sensors, such as cameras, radar, and LIDAR. C-V2X technology is designed to support 360-degree non-line-of-sight (NLOS) awareness and can extend a vehicle's ability to see, hear, and understand the environment down the road, at blind intersections, or in bad weather conditions.

"The advancement of cellular technology for C-V2X applications is very encouraging," said Don Butler, executive director of connected vehicle and services at Ford Motor Company. "This technology promises to meet, and in some cases, exceed the performance requirements of vehicle communication being proposed by relevant government agencies while leveraging existing in-vehicle connectivity frameworks. C-V2X provides a reassuring path to technology advancements necessary to support emerging developments in autonomy, automated driving, and mobility. We are keen to investigate all aspects of this opportunity and support cross industry efforts that make that possible."

SEE: IT leader's guide to the future of autonomous vehicles (Tech Pro Research)

C-V2X platforms will be installed in Ford vehicles using Qualcomm's 9150 C-V2X solution to facilitate direct communications and also using AT&T's 4G LTE network communications and the ITS platform to communicate with Nokia wireless base stations. For the new communication technologies being deployed, McCain will help facilitate the effective integration with existing and emerging traffic signal control infrastructure.

The San Diego region was designated by the US Department of Transportation as one of 10 automated vehicle proving grounds in the US earlier this year.

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By Teena Maddox

Teena Maddox is Associate Managing Editor at TechRepublic. She oversees TechRepublic's news team and TechRepublic Premium. She focuses on tech and business and how the two worlds intersect. Teena's lifelong journalism career has included writing on s...