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5G IoT LTE

3GPP finalizes V2X spec as Here launches Open Location Platform

The GSMA’s standards group, the 3GPP, has completed its V2X spec for the next version of the LTE standard – Release 14. The spec aims to define how LTE will be used to connect vehicles to things, in an increasingly connected world. The news comes as Here has launched its Open Location Platform – a system to crowdsource data from vehicles about road conditions and share the wealth among participants.

The 3GPP notes that the V2V communications are based on the older D2D (device to device) communications that were defined as part of the ProSe services in Releases 12 and 13. With D2D, the 3GPP defined the PC5 interface, which has now been enhanced for use in vehicular applications – with adjustments to suit the high speeds (up to 250kph) and high node densities that will be encountered in automotive applications.

Without getting too technical, PC5 now has a new subframe structure that should provide better tracking at high speeds – which begin to encounter problems from the Doppler effect on the radio waves. The second major tweak is in the arrangement of scheduling assignments and data resources in PC5, as well as a tweak to the Mode 4 (distributed scheduling) to allow for between sharing between overlapping resources. More information is available here.

With satellites (GNSS) acting as the universal time-clock for these V2V links, the standard should allow for synchronized communications between vehicles directly, and from base stations to vehicles. As the name implies, V2X (vehicle-to-x) would encompass communications from base stations as well as other street furniture and traffic infrastructure.

As 3GPP RAN Chairman Dino Flores explains, “as part of the expansion of the LTE platform to new services, and to keep track with the increasing needs of the automotive industry, 3GPP is developing functionality to provide enhancements specifically for vehicular communications – both in terms of direct communication (between vehicles, vehicle to pedestrian, and vehicle to infrastructure) and for cellular communications with networks.”

Mapping company Here is already making strides in the V2V space, and the company has now unveiled its Open Location Platform – a system for collating data from fleets of vehicles in order to crowdsource dynamic information about road and vehicle conditions.

Announced at the Paris Motor Show, the OLP will allow drivers to access four information services, which cover traffic conditions, potential road hazards, traffic signage, and on-street parking. The commercial launch is scheduled for the first half of 2017, and will initially source data from Here’s new(ish) owners – Audi (VW), BMW, and Daimler (Mercedes-Benz).

The OLP will be using sensors housed inside the cars, which should offer a much richer picture of road conditions than the GPS pings of old. Should all go to plan, the system will have access to speed and direction, braking and acceleration, weather conditions via traction control reports and wiper settings, and views of the dynamic road traffic signs and construction work via on-board cameras.

The four OLP services will be made available to automotive customers, but there’s been no mention of pricing as of yet. With more participants, the greater amount of data present in the OLP should help it increase its performance and value, and so it’s in Here’s interest to sign as many automakers as possible.

The data pulled from the OLP will be pushed to the in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) systems, and made available to drivers within that branded (controlled) framework. We paid a visit to Here’s Berlin HQ back in July, and were impressed with what we saw.

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