Articles, Cognitive Vehicles, Smart Mobility

Connectivity: LTE versus DSRC

Which transmission method will be the standard for connected mobility?

Connected driving brings many advantages to the table. If vehicles communicate with each other or with traffic infrastructure objects many accidents will be avoided. Sensors that are built in modern cars are able to recognize traffic problems. Whether via camera, lidar or radar sensors – the cars register congestions, accidents or black ice for example.

The collected information is either evaluated directly or transferred to the cloud in order to be analyzed. From there potential warnings are sent to corresponding vehicles. The data can be also used to manage traffic and prevent traffic jams. Feeding vehicles with data about road topographies and traffic situations in real-time could have a positive impact on the ecological balance. Green waves could be created when they are needed in a specific location. By eliminating vigorous acceleration phases emissions would be reduced strongly.

Technical Connectivity Standards

The goal is clear but how to reach it from the technical perspective? It’s about creating stable connections that can deal with large amounts of data. Sceptical voices doubt that the networks can deal with the data volume which are likely to increase in the future. Intel calculated that a person produces 650 MB a day, by 2020 the number will have increased to 1,5 GB. The establishment of connected and automated drive will boost that number even more.

Two technologies come in question for vehicle communication. On the one hand there is DSRC, short for Dedicated Short Range Communication. The name implies that this technology enables cars to communicate with other vehicles within a short range. DSRC is widely spread in Europe and the US, latter have already reserved the radio frequency 5,9 GHz for the communication standard. DSRC enables both active and passive communication and is compatible with older car models and smartphones. In this manner the car could detect pedestrians who are about to enter the road.

DSRC versus LTE – There can only be one

And then there is the LTE technology, popular because of its use in mobile communications. LTE 4G is already rife in many countries and is constantly improved. By 2020, according to the telecommunication industry, 5G LTE will be available. The automotive industry is also working on the 5G Standard and has founded an association to focus on the development - the 5GAA. Latter consists of popular industry players such as Audi, BMW, Deutsche Telekom, Mercedes-Benz, Ericsson, Huawei, Intel, Nokia, Qualcomm, SK Telekom, Valeo, Verizon and Vodafone.

According to a study by ABI Research LTE holds the greater potential. Fraunhofer presented similar results in the course of their comparison between manual traffic surveys and data collection via mobile communications. The strongest advantages of LTE technology are its reach and the short latency as the data has to be most-up-to-date. ABI Research even suggests to withdraw frequency reservations for DSRC.

Researchers from the University of California developed a signal generator that unlocks millimeter-wave transmission as part of the 5G standard. This could be the decisive point in the race between LTE and DSRC.

About the author:

David Fluhr is journalist and owner of the digital magazine “Autonomes Fahren & Co”. He is reporting regularly about trends and technologies in the fields Autonomous Driving, HMI, Telematics and Robotics. Link to his site:

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