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Ford bets big on cellular vehicle communication at CES 2018

Ford, with partner Qualcomm, will equip its cars with cellular vehicle-to-everything technology, increasing safety by letting cars talk to each other.

Ford outlines the advantages of cellular-based vehicle-to-everything communication at CES.

Ford

At CES 2018, Ford and Qualcomm announced a partnership that could see Ford's vehicles equipped with vehicle-to-everything communication (V2X) over cellular to identify dangerous driving situations, the status of traffic lights and just about everything happening on the roads.

In a blog post, Don Butler, Ford executive director of connected vehicle services, said the company will be validating Qualcomm's technology in its vehicles, an early stage that could lead to a production release. And although the initial technology will use current 4G cellular, Qualcomm is currently readying rollout of 5G cellular, and V2X for Ford would be included.

Vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure technology has been around for a while, although initial development went toward sending communications over a variation of Wi-Fi called DSRC. The idea behind the technology involves cars broadcasting their location, direction and speed, so other cars would know if they are about to get in a collision. While early development of the technology focused on DSRC, more companies are getting behind cellular communication, as the chips are relatively cheap and there is already a lot of infrastructure.

At CES four years ago, Ford demonstrated the benefits of V2X communication, showing how a car could make an emergency stop when cross traffic coming from a blind intersection would have caused a collision. And while Ford used DSRC at that time, it looks like the company favors cellular V2X (C-V2X).

Patrick Little, Qualcomm senior vice president and general manager for automotive, said that Ford will begin trials of the C-V2X technology this year. However, there is no current timeline for deployment in Ford production vehicles.

V2X technology in general faces the challenge that, if only one car has it, it isn't very useful. However, if all cars and roadside infrastructure are communicating, it has the potential to prevent many collisions, saving lives, and potentially reduce congestion due to smarter traffic lights and infrastructure.