On September 16, 2020, the Global New Energy Vehicle Supply Chain Innovation Conference was held at the Nanjing International Expo Center. The conference was attended not only by well-known domestic and foreign OEMs and component companies, but also by experts and scholars from the automotive industry and representatives of relevant government departments.
During the conference, Ren Shiyan, General Manager of the Intelligent Connected Products Business Unit of Datang Gao Hong, gave a speech on the theme of “What new value and possibilities can 5G and V2X bring to the automotive industry”.
Introduction to C-V2X
Intelligent connected vehicles and vehicle-to-everything (V2X), are similar concepts that are viewed from the perspective of the automotive industry and the communications industry, respectively. From the perspective of communications, it is generally referred to as V2X, while from the perspective of the automotive industry, it is considered as an enabling technology for automobiles, namely intelligent connected vehicles. In fact, my personal understanding is that the connotation of the two is the same.
The Relationship between 5G and V2X
Wireless communication is ubiquitous, for example, the interaction between cars and cars, cars and networks, and cars and people. These interactions can be distinguished using different colors.
For example, blue represents the interaction between cars and base stations, i.e. the traditional cellular network exchange, mainly between cars and networks, which is defined as the UU interface. In addition, from 5G to the next-generation 6G, there may be new technologies that interface with satellites to achieve greater coverage.
Furthermore, there is also the red interaction between cars and cars, cars and people, and cars and the road, which is a local network concept called V2X, a close-range interaction between cars, people, and the road. UU and PC5 in 5G are the wireless communication networks that future vehicles need to use, but their roles and characteristics are different.
Explanation of V2X Technology
This is the “Intelligent Connected Vehicle Technical Roadmap” released by the China Society of Automotive Engineers on November 26, 2016. The horizontal axis is automated driving, which represents the evolution of intelligent future production, and the vertical axis is for networked evolution.
From the initial information exchange, to collaborative sensing, to ultimately being able to participate in automatic sensing and control, networked technology is constantly advancing.
Of course, this diagram is already quite old. This year’s Intelligent Connected Vehicle Technical Roadmap will be updated, and the technology and planning inside will be updated. We have participated in the writing of the preliminary report and the new version report.
Why Introduce Networked Technology?Earlier, we mentioned that intelligent bikes can now be achieved through millimeter wave radar and high-precision maps. However, there are still some small issues with intelligent bikes. For example, whether it’s millimeter wave, cameras, or lasers, they all have a physical characteristic of being unable to function if they are obstructed. In these situations, wireless communication is necessary. The biggest advantage of wireless communication is that it can pass through obstacles.
I often draw a comparison between traditional bike sensors and human eyes, which can see and obtain a lot of information.
V2X, also known as wireless communication, is like a mouth and ears for humans, which can send and receive messages outside and pass through or bypass obstacles. In the future, for autonomous vehicles, this messaging system can form a more comprehensive and extensive perception.
There are various sensor ranges for perception, with the largest being V2X 360-degree interaction with no blind spots on the right-hand side. There are also some traditional pain points on the right side that can be solved using V2X.
C-V2X is a necessary means of perception for future autonomous driving, but not the only one. It must be integrated with various other sensing technologies to achieve more reliable, richer, and simpler product applications.
We mainly provide V2X automotive-grade wireless communication module solutions for Tier 2 automotive industry customers and have experienced a series of industry restructuring.
Datang has a self-developed LTE-V2X chip, which is similar to software-defined vehicles, and we call it SDR or software-defined radio chip, which can be further developed. We provided a high-grade module in the early stage at a very high price due to low volume.
A module costs nearly 10,000 yuan. Based on this, we worked extensively with our partner Alps to produce a large number of production-grade modules while also developing V2X-related integrated products.
We still define ourselves as Tier 2. Why? Because apart from roadside products, our onboard products are designed for V2X. As many of you know, there are large-scale projects for vehicle-road collaboration these days, where we provide retrofit onboard systems. However, for front-end systems, we collaborate with Tier 1 and OEM manufacturers for R&D.
Industrialization of C-V2X Onboard Modules
Telecommunications have high standards. Generally, equipment is considered a telecom-grade device, meaning it can work continuously 7×24 hours.
You may rarely experience network interruption today, because once the network is down, it becomes a major accident for network operators. So, the telecom-grade standard itself is a guarantee of high quality and high reliability. However, we found that for the automotive industry, the standard and threshold are even higher.I would like to introduce our journey briefly: After producing industrial-grade modules, we jointly developed a vehicle-grade V2X module with Alps in April 2019. The mass production was achieved in June 2020. According to our timeline, we started in January 2019, and finished the sample production in April. At that time, many partners expected us to provide samples, but our strategic partner, Alps, declined since the real production was still far away.
Afterwards, a series of development, including production and supply chain refinement, were conducted until the official announcement in June 2020 of module mass production. As can be seen, a large amount of work was done with significant challenges involved. This included rigorous quality assurance, multiple rounds of design, trial production, and various tests and validations involving temperature, vibration, structure, electromagnetic compatibility, and others.
Even destructive experiments were conducted, which used up to 3000 damaged modules before leaving the factory. Hence, we did not expect that the threshold for the vehicle-grade was that high. In addition, we conducted a lot of production and supply chain-related constructions, such as achieving domestic self-reliance on core components, including some chips mentioned earlier. However, there are still some peripherals for the car-grade, such as storage, that have not been fully domestically substituted yet. This is also the direction that we will work hard on in the next step.
After such efforts, we succeeded in reducing the cost by one order of magnitude with mass-produced modules, higher specifications, smaller area, more compliance with vehicle regulations, and better performance. With a large number of modules that can be used, this cost will further reduce.
In summary, we developed this domestically and openly. Since we are an SDR chip, it means that secondary application development can be performed on this chip. We are responsible for preparing the underlying protocol stack, standard communication message set, and standard interfaces for secondary development. As a telecom-grade manufacturer, we have a natural advantage in network management of such equipment, including OTA that everyone is concerned about recently.
Moreover, we will further refine our production and design with our partner, Alps. Although we are newcomers in the automotive industry, we have accumulated some experience, and we are proud to launch this homegrown product.Now there are only three C-V2X chip manufacturers in the world, one is Huawei, one is Qualcomm, and the other is Datang Telecom Technology and Industry Group. We can proudly say that China is still able to lead the world in the field of Internet of Vehicles in the automobile industry, along with new energy, BeiDou positioning, high-precision positioning, and other means to become a driving force for China’s transformation from a major automobile country to an automobile power in the future.
This article is a translation by ChatGPT of a Chinese report from 42HOW. If you have any questions about it, please email email@example.com.