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Smartwatches – the all‑in‑one wearable

Courtesy of u-blox

From the Apple Watch, to the Samsung Gear and Huawei 2, more and more smartwatches are popping up every day on people’s wrists. What started as a luxurious fashion accessory is becoming increasingly respected as a useful wearable.

Key to the smartwatches’ newfound appeal has been the increasing capability of today’s best devices. By incorporating onboard Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) positioning, the best smartwatches now achieve smartphone independence during workouts. And with recent improvements to the GNSS receiver’s energy efficiency, they can tuck the technology into a slim design, making them the ultimate all‑in‑one wearable.

Smartphone independence

The desire for smartwatches grew from the realization that having to take out and check our smartphones for every text message, notification, or navigational step was seriously annoying. By having a watch that could not only tell the time, but link us to our smartphones, we could stay in touch just by checking our wrist.

Ironically, as our phones have grown bigger, more powerful, and more integral to our daily lives, they’ve also become more cumbersome to carry around. While runners in 2017 may have been content to strap an iPhone 4 on their arm, doing the same with an iPhone 7 Plus would be quite a feat.

For smartwatches that’s meant that the obvious next step has been achieving smartphone independence. Having native apps and functionality like GNSS positioning that run right on the watch without requiring smartphone connectivity is useful for runners, hikers, and other athletes who don’t fancy carrying their phablets with them on their journey.

All‑in‑one device

The same demographic that is interested in the latest smartwatch is often also interested in fitness tracking, but no one wants to have to buy and wear two devices at the same time. The natural next step for smartwatches is to evolve into all‑in‑one devices that combine traditional smartwatch functionality with full‑featured fitness tracking.

The Apple Watch Series 2 and the new Fitbit Ionic exemplify this new type of smartwatch. Besides iPhone notifications, turn‑by‑turn navigation, and onboard music storage, they also feature great fitness tracking capabilities courtesy of onboard GPS.

Low‑power GNSS – the key to tomorrow’s smartwatch

With smartphone independence in the bag, the next frontiers in smartwatch design are likely to involve size and, consequently, energy. Just as demand for ever more smartwatch functionalities is increasing energy requirements, demand for ever slimmer designs – which ultimately means smaller batteries – are forcing smartwatch manufacturers to up the ante in terms of energy efficiency.

The bulk of a smartwatch’s energy supply powers its GNSS receiver. The recently released u‑blox ZOE‑M8B GNSS System‑in‑Package (SiP), uses the proprietary Super‑E technology to reduce the power expended on positioning by two thirds compared to traditional GNSS receivers. On top of that, it is tiny. Measuring just 4.5 x 4.5 x 1.0 mm, it offers manufacturers a complete positioning unit that can easily be designed into any highly integrated device.

By incorporating the low‑power consumption u‑blox ZOE‑M8B module, the next generation of smartwatches will be able to achieve smartphone independence with a slim design, fulfilling the promise of being the ultimate all‑in‑one wearable.

For more blog posts on wearables, see our posts on a great solution for GPS sports watchesand a super‑efficient GPS module could become a game changer for fitness trackers.

You can also visit our microsite dedicated to Wearables.

Florian Bousquet
Market Development Manager, Product Center Positioning, u-blox

BACK MEETING THE CHALLENGES OF TOMORROW’S VEHICLES

Courtesy of u-blox

The automotive and transport market covers a vast amount of applications. The u-blox product portfolio is designed and developed for such applications, saving both time and money for improved efficacy and operation.

Autonomous driving
A car without a driver? What not long ago sounded like a fairytale is already in test mode with experiments by Volvo and Google’s campus cars to name a couple.
The autonomous vehicle raises the bar for information availability in the vehicle in order to ensure a safe ride. Ultra-precise and reliable vehicle position as well as information on the behavior and position of surrounding vehicles becomes crucial. All this is only possible with the seamless integration of sensors such as cameras, highly reliable navigation components, secure and stable wireless LTE communication channels, as well as communication to other vehicles and the roadway infrastructure. Technologies including high precision GNSS, Cat 9 LTE, and 802.11p are already today supporting this vision.

V2X
At a basic level of V2X, vehicles can communicate critical information between vehicles (vehicle to vehicle / V2V) and infrastructure (vehicle to infrastructure / V2I) to avoid accidents at intersections or send location information for emergency call services. However, the excitement is around V2X’s potential to usher in a new era of cognitive automobiles that are not only aware of their own status, but are also aware of the status of other vehicles, the environment, weather and road conditions, traffic, and myriad other parameters that might affect driver safety and travel efficiency. This automotive cognition happens when sensing, communication, and decisions take place at a machine-to-machine (M2M) level and enhances the overall driver experience as well as road safety.

ADAS
Advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) deployed today include radar sensors and cameras. These ADAS methods enable vehicles to sense obstacles but only in certain conditions, within a limited angle and range. As V2X arrives, 360 degree awareness will be enabled offering exact vehicle data including position, speed, and direction. ADAS will bring high quality maps fused with sensors (cameras, RADAR, LiDAR, etc.) as well as GNSS with 3D dead reckoning. V2X will thereby complement conventional ADAS technologies, resulting in a new era in road safety and traffic efficiency. ADAS is brought forth by a careful combination of technologies that are required for fully automated and autonomous driving – including reliability and protection from cybersecurity threats.

Navigation & traffic services
Improved and specific traffic services, such as real-time traffic information or location based services (LBS) on your route, will make driving safer and more efficient. The technologies that these services are built on are GNSS and cellular communication, technologies that u-blox has a long track record with in automotive OEMs and Tier1s. This focus is also reflected in the fact that u-blox designs components specifically for the automotive industry.

eCall / ERA-GLONASS
GPS-based eCall (Europe) and GLONASS-based ERA GLONASS (Russia) are emergency call service initiatives that combine mobile communications and satellite positioning to provide rapid assistance to motorists in the event of a collision. The systems monitor in vehicle sensors for such events as airbag deployment to automatically transmit location details and summon assistance via emergency cellular service. In band modem (e.g. GSM, UMTS) capability – that is, the ability to transmit data over the voice channel – is a key requirement for both systems.

Infotainment
From a purely technological point of view, the addition of Internet connectivity to automobiles for infotainment purposes is a natural and evolutionary reaction to the movement of mobile devices from the home to the car. Applications range from streaming music and video, in-vehicle Internet access, and receiving alerts of traffic and weather conditions.

Infotainment systems can deliver a rich user experience, and when combined with navigation systems they offer the highest level of performance in terms of design, quality, and user friendliness. A high-speed cellular module can be embedded directly in the center-stack infotainment system as an intelligent communications hub for all services. This reduces the need for cabling and safety implementations, which can be expensive because they need to ensure that critical services like eCall work after a crash. Hands-free voice and music streaming can be achieved via Bluetooth, while Wi-Fi can facilitate an in-vehicle access point, multimedia distribution, and rear-seat-entertainment, as well as display applications such as Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Mirror Link.

Telematics
A telematics unit (TCU) gathers and transmits status information of the vehicle. GNSS receivers and wireless communication are the underlying technologies for successful telematics applications. They support a plethora of applications such as fleet and asset management, stolen vehicle recovery, usage-based insurance (UBI), power distribution, and public safety.

Connectivity and, in many cases, the intelligence of the telematics system, are placed in direct conjunction with the antennas (smart antenna / connected car node), avoiding expensive cable runs. Due to placement, a high speed data bus is needed to connect the system to high bandwidth data devices in the car. Often, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections enable data to and from consumer devices in the vehicle. These systems tend to be great for cost-effective smart modules, which “borrow” the processing capacity of a cellular module for the entire node, including for routing and telematics services.

While the TCU is primarily dedicated to telematics, it can also provide connectivity for infotainment systems and other services. For instance, cellular connectivity can enable features such as eCall, bCall, concierge services, remote control, and remote monitoring. Connectivity to the Internet can also be made via external Wi-Fi hotspots to access the cloud, media services, over-the-air (OTA) updates, or to off-load LTE. Additionally, V2V and V2X communications can be achieved via 802.11p, and remote key-less entry (RKE) can be done via Bluetooth low energy to the smartphone that acts as a key.

TCU ublox

Transportation
In the next few years, traffic will increase, the number of people requiring mobility will increase, and simply the way we will live and work will have an underlying impact on our need for mobility. Consequently using the next generation of wireless communication and location technologies will contribute to optimizing traffic flow, efficient use of resources, and also the improved usage of vehicles.

Fleet management
The gathering and transmission of on-board diagnostic (OBD-II) data, combined with sensors, precise positioning, and driver monitoring are also critical for fleet managers, who can now track truck and driver status to make sure the truck receives maintenance before breaking down. They can also check that the driver is alert and maintaining good driving habits. For fleet managers who are in a very competitive environment, it can make the difference between staying in business or not. Fuel savings, automatic tolls to save time, along with fewer breakdowns can add up quickly to reduce the overall business costs. It will also increase safety, as critical information can be transmitted in real-time and service can be prepared efficiently, thereby avoiding downtimes.

For fleet managers, it is crucial to have a stable data connection to communicate with the vehicle, combined with location information and short range communication options (for example, for diagnostics in the garage or to update relevant vehicle information via a gateway).

Logistics asset tracking
For full operational visibility and decision making through the logistics business value chain, it is crucial to be able to accurately track assets and vehicles. For instance, containers can be tracked globally with a combination of battery optimized cellular technologies (such as NB-IoT), Wi-Fi connected access points, and standard positioning technologies. This will allow logistic companies to track the driving behavior of each driver, optimize routes, and get technical information to maximize efficiency.

 

Logistics Asset Tracking ublox

CellLocate – enhance GNSS positioning indoors

Courtesy of u-blox

Increased reliability and indoor positioning based on hybrid GPS and mobile network attributes

Although GPS is a widespread technology, GPS positioning is not always possible, particularly in shielded environments such as indoors, enclosed park houses, or when a GPS jamming signal is present. The situation can be improved by augmenting GPS receiver data with mobile network cell attributes to provide a level of redundancy that can benefit numerous applications.

Based on internally developed cellular transceiver modules, u‑blox has embedded the cellular positioning technology CellLocate® into a number of its 2G, 3G and 4G modules. The technology  uses the CellLocate® service to  provide the modem with a location estimate, based on its observations of the surrounding cellular base station signals, assisting the GNSS receiver and providing a fallback positioning solution.

This improves positioning data in several use cases:

GPS signals are blocked: a GPS receiver cannot determine a position when satellite signals are unavailable, such as within tunnels, buildings, or metallic containers. For fleet and supply chain management or tracking of people inside buildings, this condition can be unacceptable. In this case, a cell‑based positioning system using GSM cell information can provide an estimated position. This is attractive for vehicle or container tracking applications where an approximate location of valuable assets is preferable to no position fix at all. This system is functional within warehouses, rail stations, airports, and tunnels.

GPS signals are jammed: GPS jamming devices are easily obtained for less than a hundred dollars. These devices can neutralize GPS receivers, and are often employed during vehicle theft. A backup cell‑based system in this case acts as a secondary system, as GSM cell signals are available even when satellite signals are blocked by jamming. The GPS receiver can also add intelligence to the system as u‑blox GPS receivers can detect when a jamming signal is present, putting the system into an “attempted theft” condition.

Machine‑to‑Machine (M2M) applications: Many M2M applications require positioning capability within a bounded area such as within a city, along main vehicle or rail links, or within specific venues such as an exhibition, entertainment or healthcare facilities. Positioning reliability in these areas can be improved by using cellular signals as well as GPS to provide accurate positioning. Based on an extension of u‑blox’ AssistNow Online GPS assistance service, u‑blox’ CellLocate technology is used to match cellular positioning data coupled with previously successful GPS fixes.

This “learning” solution can be practical for M2M applications where units are repeatedly used in specific areas such as a taxi fleet in a city, or containers and palettes travelling between warehouses. In these cases a specific database of useful cell data is quickly generated and the service is able to reliably give the current position to the user.

The above scenarios exploit the combination of Cellular and GPS positioning data (Hybrid positioning) to deliver better results than GPS technology could accomplish alone:

  • Positioning performance can be improved and extended to areas where GPS satellite signals are 100% blocked, especially within buildings
  • Eliminate “no‑fix” scenarios by providing at least an approximate fix wherever cell phone coverage is available
  • Overcome GPS jamming scenarios to improve antitheft system performance

Download the CellLocate Product Summary.

u‑blox’s CellLocate cellular positioning technology is an embedded feature implemented in u‑blox SARA 2G and LISA/SARA 3G cellular modem families. Download the whitepaper: “Hybrid Positioning and CellLocate“.

Products

HSPA modules with 2G fallback
Dual and quad-band GSM/GPRS modules
LARA-R2
Size-optimized LTE Cat 1 modules in single and multi-mode configurations
Multi-mode LTE Cat 1 modules with 2G/3G fallback

u-blox NEO-M8L

Courtesy of everything RF

The NEO-M8L from u-blox is a 3D Automotive Dead Reckoning (ADR) module that combines GNSS, inertial sensing, and speed information from the vehicle to provide continuous and accurate positioning for Telematics, navigation and Vehicle-to-Everything applications. This module supports multi-constellation reception including Galileo, GPS, GLONASS, BeiDou and QZSS. It enables accurate, real-time positioning, speed and heading information at rates up to 30 Hz. It has high tracking and navigation sensitivity of -160 dBm. This module can provide continuous accurate navigation even during signal loss from time to time. The module is available in a 24 pin LLC package that measures 12.2 x 16 x 2.4 mm.

 Product Specifications

 

  • Manufacturer: u-blox AG
  • Description: GNSS Module with 3D Dead Reckoning and Onboard Sensors
  • Technology: BEIDOUGLONASSGalileoGPSGNSSSBASQZSS
  • Band: B1
  • Galileo: Yes
  • GPS: Yes
  • GLONASS: Yes
  • BEIDOU: Yes
  • QZSS: Yes
  • SBAS: Yes
  • Interface: UART, SPI, DDC, USB V2.0
  • Navigation Sensitivity: -160 dBm
  • Voltage: 2.7 to 3.6 V
  • Supply Voltage: 2.7 to 3.6 V
  • Current: 29 mA
  • Package: 24 pin LCC
  • Dimension: 12.2 x 16.0 x 2.4 mm
  • Operating Temperature: -40 to 85 Degree C
  • Storage Temperature: -40 to 85 Degree C
  • RoHS: Yes

 

Click to view more product details on manufacturer’s website  »

Making sense of the wearable market

Courtesy of u-blox

connected customer

 

The wearable market is undergoing a rapid evolution, which is driving innovation and influencing the time-to-market. From a usage experience, main drivers are fashion and personality choices that in turn drive requirements on form factor and usability. Further, monetization is moving from the device to services and thus driving big data / cloud analytics, a total ecosystem which is defined as the Internet of Things (IoT).

Health — There’s a saying, “sitting is the new smoking”, implying health risks for those who don’t exercise. We see companies issuing health insurance to push their customers to be more physically active in order to lower the risk of future health problems. In the wearable industry, activity devices are already being used to encourage the user to be more active, and there is growing interest in using data to support the reduction of insurance premiums for active users. This trend is to a large extent driven by companies that are supporting the premiums of their employees. In these cases, enterprise programs are launched and each employee gets an activity tracker “for free”. With these trackers, they are incentivized to be more active and the company can then save costs on the insurance premiums plus benefit from a healthier staff.

Fashion — The first generation of tech wearables was focused on function rather than fashion. Today, this is no longer the case, and fashion tech is here to stay. Wearables have become fashionable accessories in a range of styles, screens / no screens, material, and more. Wearables have been identified by fashion brands, OEMs, and watch makers as a growth area, and therefore, strategic investments are made to sustain this growth. Examples already underway include Fossil buying Misfit and HTC partnering with Under Armor. We see key watch brands (such as Casio, Citizen, Alpina) following this trend by integrating smart electronics in their products.

Social — Not only has it become trendy to be fit and track your progress on your own, but today we want to share our achievements after the exercise. A brand that recognized this upcoming trend already a few years back was GoPro when they introduced their action camera slogan “You’re the Hero”. Hence, products that track your physical performance results are required – not only for the sake of knowing the performance, but to actually show the world how good you are and to compare your performance with that of your peers.

User interface  — We will also see significant changes to the user interface of wearables. Wearable technology users want to interact with the device via speech or even via image recognition. The devices thus need to evolve technically to satisfy the growing needs for interactivity with our personal senses.

Tracking — Wearables fit very nicely with our growing need for precise tracking of the whereabouts of our loved ones, while also offering educational and interactive content. The elderly, kids and pets can be fitted with real‑time accurate location tracking devices with convenient safety zone settings. For instance, Korean KIWI PLUS’ smartwatch offers such capabilities.

Time management — By enriching the experience and meeting desires to optimize our lives around the clock, we see new trends in the on-the-go-lifestyle time management. With the influx of wearable tech devices we gain insight on how to keep our lives on track.

Connectivity — Not only do we want to control our time, but also our everyday communication from emails and phone calls, or interact with our surroundings, such as the smart home. Intelligent wearables such as smart watches give us new connectivity tools that are ready when we are.

Augmented reality — The possibility to interact with a device for pleasure or enhanced virtual experience is a fascinating new trend; the Pokémon GO fever in 2016 clearly showed how we want to be on the go and experience new worlds. Augmented reality can change how we interact with the world around us – from location sensing personalized messages to personal interaction.

u-blox: The Ideal Technology Partner for Wearables

Courtesy of u-blox

Wearable devices cover a diverse range of applications, but with many common needs. u-blox delivers best-in-class location, short range and wide area connectivity to meet these needs. Furthermore, we offer intelligent fusion of location and sensor information to deliver value-added applications and services.

Sensing

At the heart of this wide range of wearable applications is real-time data collection, including body sensing, environmental and situational awareness. Sensing is the key enabler of intelligent wearables, and there is a wide variety of wearable sensors, with widely varying tasks. Such sensors include accelerometers, magnetometers & gyroscopes, heart rate monitors, live image sensors (cameras), impact, temperature and sound sensors. Wearable sensor development is a vital part of the future wearable landscape.

Location awareness and positioning

As a leader in precision, low power GNSS, u-blox is well positioned in wearables. We have complete ownership of the intellectual property (IP), which allows for the best control over the supply chain. Also, as we have a complete GNSS portfolio, we can serve all opportunities: chips for the greatest level of flexibility and system-in-packages (SiPs) for the best level of integration. Further, as we design GNSS stand-alone technology with all positioning algorithms inside, we remove dependences on a specific application processor and the need for heavy and power hungry signal processing.

Short range connectivity

u-blox delivers best-in-class short range (Bluetooth and Wi-Fi) technologies tailored to fit wearables’ connectivity needs. Our short range modules are integral to connecting wearables to nearby devices and the internet.

Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) connectivity

Our cellular LPWAN technology (LTE and NB-IoT) is designed in-house from the ground up and isn’t adapted from existing LTE Cat 4 silicon or modules to serve lower speed market needs. We offer low-speed LTE CAT-NB1 (NB-IoT) for ultra-low power devices, moderate speed LTE CAT-M1 for low-power always-on wearables, and higher speed LTE CAT-1 for powerful smart wearables. Since we develop both chips and modules, we are uniquely positioned to specify customized needs for the wearable market without having to rely on life-cycle lengths of third party suppliers. Our LARA-R3 module – based on our own LTE Cat 1 chipset – is ideal for high-end smart wearables. With in-built features such as end-to-end security and embedded uCPU, we aim to reduce your size, time-to-market and system cost.

Small size & battery optimization

Primary design factors for wearable devices are ultra-small size and ultra-low power consumption, both for the end-device and for its components. We understand these needs; in fact, our roadmap to ultra-low power, low cost, highly integrated cellular products is targeted specifically at wearable applications. We offer the world’s smallest Cat M1 modules as well as market-leading Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) modules tailored for low power, low cost, and IoT communication. Further, we are the leading low power positioning technology thanks to our Super-E mode, which offers the best balance on power versus performance. And we are also focused on small GNSS solution size; our ZOE form factor is the smallest GNSS sensor in the market.
As we focus on balancing size, power, cost and performance, we can enable your future requirements for smart devices and we offer you scalability in your designs.

One supplier

With u-blox as your partner, you get a full portfolio of wireless and positioning technologies to collect the data and securely transmit it wirelessly. Since you get it from the same source, you also have the possibility to seamlessly combine these technologies in one solution. We focus on platform optimizations; for instance, GNSS + cellular location, uCPU embedded application, sensor support, wide-area vs short range co-existence, and integrated GNSS + Bluetooth.

A super‑efficient GPS module could become a game changer for fitness trackers

Courtesy of u-blox

Ever since the Nike+ FuelBand came out in 2012, proving the appeal of wrist‑based activity tracking, the category has exploded. Nowadays, a whole industry has emerged around this market, led by brands like Fitbit and Xiaomi.

Whereas early fitness trackers could get by on simple activity monitoring using a basic accelerometer, nowadays the market is much more competitive. Besides activity tracking, these days sleep monitoring and heart‑rate monitoring are expected, along with rugged yet fashionable designs.

How do device makers stand out in today’s wearable market? A look at the top fitness trackers on the market today points to onboard GPS. But the scarcity of products out there today shows: integrating an autonomous GPS into a fitness tracker without watering down its primary value proposition – its size, price, and relatively long battery life – has been much easier said than done.

Outdoor activity tracking
Fitness trackers today can count your calories burnt, measure your heartbeat, and can even be your personal coach, but without GPS functionality, they’re incomplete. For runners, hikers, cyclers, and other outdoor athletes, having the ability to track their workout or their journey with positioning technology is much more useful than simply counting steps.

Using Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) positioning, runners and cyclists can pace themselves, track distances, and monitor performance. Hikers can log their journeys, or even route themselves back to their starting position if they get lost.

Today some of these outdoor athletes are opting for GPS sports watches – full‑featured, smartwatch‑like devices that do everything they need and more. But not everyone wants a bulky, clunky, expensive watch.

Fitness trackers are the perfect solution for consumers who aren’t interested in the whole shebang and simply want a sleek, lightweight, and affordable device – one that can keep track of their activities both indoors and outside.

The missing piece of the puzzle
Tracking outdoor activities using GNSS positioning has been an obvious design goal for fitness trackers since day one, but technical challenges have stood in the way. While accelerometers, heart rate monitors, and other sensors have shrunk in size, cost, and power consumption, GNSS technology has remained a major energy hog.

That’s why adding GNSS to a wearable’s feature list has always been tied to a significant drop in battery life. On top of that, a much larger battery, needed to make up for increased power demand, has typically made it difficult to maintain the slim form factors important to this category of device and driven prices up.

With its ZOE‑M8B GNSS System‑in‑Package (SiP), announced this week, u‑blox has an ideal solution for wearable designers seeking to save every last square millimeter in their devices. Measuring just 4.5 x 4.5 x 1.0 mm, the ZOE‑M8B will fit easily on any PCB. And designed from the ground up for energy efficiency, the module uses only one‑third the power of current‑generation GNSS receivers.

This dramatic reduction in power consumption opens up the possibility of adding GNSS positioning to many more devices, including fitness trackers that previously lacked the power budget for it, without sacrificing the slim form factors that consumers have come to expect.

For fitness trackers, GPS capability is the missing piece of the puzzle. By incorporating low‑power consumption GNSS using the ZOE‑M8B positioning SiP, these slim, elegant, and lightweight devices can finally serve their users from the gym to the trail.

For more information on ZOE‑M8B, come and see us at the u‑blox booth N.352 (M2M Zone) at MWC Americas, held on 12‑14 September in San Francisco. And for more blog posts on wearables, see our post on a great solution for GPS sports watches!

Florian Bousquet
Market Development Manager, Product Center Positioning, u-blox

V2X – a step towards autonomous driving!

Courtesy of u-blox

What will actually make this all happen? And how reliable is the technology? Vehicle to vehicle (V2V) and vehicle to infrastructure (V2I) wireless technology, collectively known as V2X, improves road safety, reduces traffic congestion and enhances the overall passenger experience.

V2X Improvement #1: Blind Spot Warning (BSW) When traveling on a multilane road, the BSW application provides a notification to the driver of the host vehicle when a remote car is positioned in its blind spot.

V2X Improvement #2: Emergency Electronic Brake Light (EEBL)

The application will help the driver of a following vehicle by sending warning to surrounding vehicle via V2V if any of the identified vehicles is either hard breaking or performing hard deceleration.

V2V and V2X automobiles and infrastructure roll out

Courtesy of u-blox by Patrick Mannion (Technology Analyst and Writer)

Read full article here: www.u-blox.com

The necessary elements of high‑level autonomous vehicles are starting to roll out as GM deploys Vehicle‑to‑Vehicle (V2V) systems in its vehicles, while Vehicle‑to‑Everything (V2X) test beds begin in Tampa, New York, and Wyoming.

It’s finally started: Automotive giant GM has begun V2V deployments with the rollout of dedicated short range radio (DSRC) in its 2017 Cadillac CTS models. The vehicles will be able to transmit and receive simple messages about location, heading and speed, over distances of up to 1000 feet at a rate of 10 messages per second, that is one message every 100 msec.

Per the original intent of V2V, Cadillac’s system allows vehicles to alert drivers of other vehicles to potentially hazardous situations ahead, giving them additional time to react. Common hazardous scenarios that prompt alerts are hard braking, slippery conditions and disabled vehicles. Drivers can also customize alerts to show in the instrument cluster and available heads‑up display.

Also, multiple V2V‑equipped vehicles create an ad hoc wireless network that allows for the transfer of information without relying solely on sight lines, good weather conditions or cellular coverage (Figure 2).

GM Cadillac Division V2V system
Figure 1: GM’s Cadillac division is deploying a V2V system in its CTS line that is capable of communicating over a range of 300 meters. (Image source: GM)

On the infrastructure side, shortly after Cadillac made its intentions known, both the Tampaand Wyoming Connected Vehicle (CV) Pilot Deployment Program websites went live, joining New York City’s program. The three locations were selected by the US Dept. of Transportation to receive a collective $45 million in funding to initiate a Design/Build/Test phase for its CV program. The premise of the program is that connected vehicles could save lives, enhance productivity, reduce vehicles’ environmental impact, and transform public agency operations for the better.

Each of the three sites have already spent 12 months of the 50‑month program preparing a deployment concept for a fast roll out (Figure 2). Now the program is in Phase 2, which involves designing, building, and testing the complex deployment of integrated wireless in‑vehicle, mobile device, and corresponding roadside technologies. This began in September and has been assigned a 20‑month time frame. The remaining months, or Phase 3, will be occupied with the maintenance and operation of the pilot programs.

DoT CV Pilots Deployment Program

Figure 2. The DoT’s CV Pilots Deployment Program has selected Tampa, New York, and Wyoming as pilot sites. All have completed Phase 1 concept development activities and have entered Phase 2 – Design/Deploy/Test. (Image source: ITS.DOT.gov)

The program participants already have the benefit of 75 MHz of spectrum in the 5.9‑GHz band. This was set aside in 1999 by the FCC, explicitly for the use of intelligent transportation systems (ITSs). The spectrum is however allocated differently per region. For example in Japan, they operate DSRC in 720 MHz band. How that spectrum is used is up to the technologists and the regulatory bodies.

To help take advantage of the spectrum and support the development of ITS applications, the IEEE 802.11p amendment to the 802.11 standard was implemented for wireless access in vehicular environments (WAVE). Among other things, it defines the exchange of data between high‑speed vehicles and between vehicles and infrastructure (V2I).

The critical aspects of this communication include latency and signal processing time, especially as designers and automotive engineers consider moving to Level 4 and eventually Level 5 autonomy. Let’s use an example to show the importance of response time.

A vehicle moving at 65 mph covers 95.33 feet (29 meters) in 1 second. In the case of the GM Cadillac CTS, it has a wireless communications range of almost 1000 feet (305 meters), so it has a 10‑second window in which to respond. If that response means stopping as quickly as possible, that might take up to 400 feet (122 meters) to do safely, from 65 mph. Subtracting that 400 feet leaves only 6 seconds for the vehicles to communicate the nature of the upcoming incident to allow it to stop in time. Factor in non‑line‑of‑sight issues, the potential for RF interference and possible latencies at the application layer, and the importance of minimizing any delays becomes clear.

Right now, the 2017 Cadillac CTS is the only vehicle on the market with V2V built in, so it can only talk with other Cadillac CTS’s. This of course limits the usefulness of the feature, so Cadillac is not charging for it, for now. However, as more vehicles get deployed, and the infrastructure gets developed and expands beyond Tampa, New York, and Wyoming, the V2X functionality will become more useful, and valuable. Much like any communications network, it will follow Metcalfe’s Law and become exponentially more valuable the number of nodes are added.

In the meantime, Cadillac is eager to work with any company, or country, looking to roll out DSRC. It may also soon have V2V companions, as Chrysler and Ford have already indicated their intent to roll out V2X technology. Volkswagen also announced recently that it would deploy DSRC technology in new vehicles as of 2019.

For more on V2X and autonomous driving, read our previous blog posts: How V2X can make our cars smarter and our streets safer and Autonomous vehicle’s Lego blocks take shape.

For further information on u‑blox V2X offering, visit our website.

Patrick Mannion
Technology Analyst and Writer

Bosch, Geo++, Mitsubishi Electric and u-blox to establish joint venture Sapcorda Services to bring high precision GNSS positioning services to Mass Markets

Courtesy of u-blox

Bosch, Geo++, Mitsubishi Electric and u‑blox today announced the creation of Sapcorda Services GmbH, a joint venture that will bring high precision GNSS positioning services to mass market applications

Thalwil, Switzerland – 8 August 2017 – Bosch, Geo++, Mitsubishi Electric and u‑blox (SIX:UBXN) today announced the creation of Sapcorda Services GmbH, a joint venture that will bring high precision GNSS positioning services to mass market applications. The four parties recognized that existing solutions for GNSS positioning services do not meet the needs of emerging high precision GNSS mass markets. As a result, they decided to join forces to facilitate the establishment of a worldwide available and affordable solution for System Integrators, OEMs and receiver manufacturers. Each partner brings its unique expertise to the joint venture Sapcorda Services.
 
Sapcorda will offer globally available GNSS positioning services via internet and satellite broadcast and will enable accurate GNSS positioning at centimeter level. The services are designed to serve high volume automotive, industrial and consumer markets. The real‑time correction data service will be delivered in a public, open format and is not bound to receiver hardware or systems. More information will be made available later this year.

“We are looking forward to collaborating with our partners in this joint venture. Together, we want to create a GNSS positioning service that fully supports the requirements for positioning sensors in the automotive sector. Only with built‑in safety and the highest levels of precision will we be able to make automated driving reality,” says Jumana Al‑Sibai, member of the executive management of the Chassis Systems Control division of the Robert Bosch GmbH.

“Geo++ anticipates defining the future of high precision positioning services with our partners at Bosch, Mitsubishi Electric and u‑blox. The combination of the partners´ longstanding leadership in automotive and mass market solutions with Sapcorda’s commitment to push open formats will pave the way for a raft of next generation GNSS applications.” says Gerhard Wübbena founder & president of Geo++.

“Mitsubishi Electric aims to create a border‑less global market for high precision positioning systems where receivers will be able to enjoy real‑time correction data services potentially interoperable with the Japanese government´s “Centimeter Level Augmentation Service (CLAS)” via the Quasi‑Zenith Satellite System. We believe that this venture will accelerate adoption of automated driving and safe driving support.” says Masamitsu Okamura, Executive Officer in charge of Electronic Systems at Mitsubishi Electric Corporation.

“We believe this initiative with Bosch, Geo++ and Mitsubishi Electric to create Sapcorda Services will bring a truly disruptive GNSS service offering to the market. Key characteristics such as security, safety and mass‑scalability, coupled with an attractive business model and an open approach – serving all interested GNSS receiver manufacturers alike – will be a game‑changer across a large number of established and emerging applications” says Daniel Ammann, Executive VP and co‑founder at u‑blox.