What’s V2X, and why is it the future?
As 5G networks spread, expect to hear a lot more about V2X – and reap its benefits. V2X stands for ‘Vehicle to Everything’, and that sounds both cryptic and promising. So, what is it, which mobility benefits can we expect, and when?
Just one recent V2X news item among many. In mid-December, mobility infrastructure management specialist Iteris and Continental, the global mobility supplier, launched a traffic detection system. Called Vantage Fusion, this system enables a range of V2X applications, which will help make traffic safer, smarter and more sustainable.
So far, so vague – a problem with a lot of the reporting about V2X, as it is a highly technical topic. So, what does Vantage Fusion actually do?
Well, this: the system detects motor vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians with a hybrid system of video and radar technology. That information is shared between connected vehicles and other V2X-enabled devices. This leads to “cooperative perception”.
In layperson’s terms: thanks to V2X, all participants in traffic will be able to better perceive and predict each other’s behaviour on the road. That will reduce accidents, congestion and other inefficiencies.
Vantage Fusion, which is connected-vehicle ready, is the first solution to come out of Iteris and Continental’s recently announced collaboration, which aims to leverage automotive sensors and infrastructural connectivity to improve urban transport – in first instance in North America.
In that perspective, V2X – by which is meant any form of connective technology allowing vehicles to ‘talk’ to their surroundings, including other cars and traffic infrastructure – is a critical driver for the fast-evolving mobility paradigm. That paradigm is getting more connected, sustainable and autonomous by the day. V2X has huge potential impact on areas of critical concern to corporate fleets, including the efficiency, duration and safety of vehicle transport.
Just on that last point: according to the U.S. Department of Transportation, V2X technology could help reduce unimpaired vehicle crashes by about 80%.
“Neck and neck”
All this could become relevant to fleet operations sooner rather than later, writes veteran ICT analyst Colley Hwang in DigiTimes Asia, based in Taiwan – not coincidentally, a world leader in both microchip production and a pioneer in V2X technology. “2022 will be the year for digital giants to combat neck and neck in the markets of V2X services,” writes Mr Hwang.
The race is not just between tech giants like Google (whose Android is the most important operating system today) and Apple. It also includes OEMs like Toyota, Volkswagen, Daimler and Hyundai/Kia, who have all tried to build their own platforms; and Renault-Nissan, Honda, BMW, Ford, GM and Stellantis, who have developed services under an open Android-based operating system.
And then there are Tier 1 suppliers like Continental, who are building partnerships to stake out their own piece of V2X territory. But there is more; partnerships are springing up left, right and centre in this fast-evolving field.
Only yesterday, BMW and Seoul Robotics announced a V2X project at the OEM’s Munich manufacturing plant – a so-called “sensor tower”. Sensor towers are crucial to the vision of Seoul Robotics: they act like flight control centres, for the hundreds of vehicles they autonomously guide to and from their designated destinations – no humans required.
The Korean AI-based perception software company calls this “autonomy through infrastructure”, and its contract with BMW is its first commercial deployment. Its control tower solution resolves first- and last-mile issues, and is not designed for use on the motorway. Nevertheless, this first commercial application proves that V2X can be an important contributor to higher levels of vehicle autonomy, today in a BMW production plant, tomorrow perhaps in large parking garages, for example at airports or at leasing or rental company facilities.
$2.2 billion in 2025
It’s a concept that has elicited the interest of other partners: in 2019, Bosch and Daimler worked together on automated valet parking (e.g. at hotels). Both projects would free up manpower for other assignments, dramatically reducing cost.
As 5G becomes the standard, V2X products and services will increase, in ways that are limited only by what is technically possible and creatively imaginable. If anything can be digitally connected to the automotive ecosystem and if its data can be monetised, it most likely will.
And those growth opportunities are already here. According to one forecast, the automotive V2X market is slated to grow at an annual rate of 38%, from $619 million in 2021 to more than $2.2 billion in 2025. By that time, whether you’ll use the technology to park your vehicles or turn red traffic lights green as you approach, V2X is likely to be an important part of your fleet operations.