New Qualcomm V2X chipset brings mad bandwidth to connected cars

It'll work with both modern 4G LTE and upcoming 5G cellular networks.

Toyota

In the near future, new cars will be able to talk to one another, as well as communicate with local infrastructure. But in order to get there, we need to build cars that can, you know, do that. That's where Qualcomm comes in.

Qualcomm unveiled a new chipset that is built specifically for vehicle-to-x (V2X) communications. The Qualcomm 9150 C-V2X chipset relies on both 4G and forthcoming 5G cellular standards to send messages between vehicles and infrastructure. It will be available for testing in late 2018, arriving in production vehicles before 2019.

Already, automakers are lining up to take these new chips for a spin. Both Audi and PSA Group, which oversees Peugeot and Citroën, have agreed to test Qualcomm's new chipset.

Nothing makes me happier than the idea of being able to avoid traffic jams or, as this picture from VW shows, accidental vehicular manslaughter.

Volkswagen

While most cellular-based communications in modern cars require use of a carrier network like AT&T or Verizon, Qualcomm's chip does not need to piggyback. Instead, the chip uses the 5.9GHz spectrum, specifically blocked off by the FCC for short-range vehicle communications, to send messages to and fro.

"C-V2X offers benefits to the automotive industry by developing new capabilities for improving road safety, and enhancing autonomous driving and advanced connected services," said Nakul Duggal, Qualcomm's VP of product management, in a statement. "C-V2X is expected to support safer roads, increase productivity and decrease traffic congestion."

5G is a bit part of this next-gen system. While modern 4G LTE modems provide enough bandwidth to send basic communications messages, complicated procedures requiring lots of bandwidth will need 5G to function correctly.

V2X communication can be a huge boon to automotive safety. The system can reduce traffic congestion by suggesting alternate routes to drivers entering the region, or it can communicate emergency situations like road hazards and collisions. Emergency vehicles could better communicate their presence. It's like having hundreds or thousands of extra eyes all over the road.

Right now, V2X tech is in very limited use. Audi teamed up with the city of Las Vegas to integrate V2X into its traffic lights, warning new Audi drivers when a light is about to turn from red to green.

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