V2X Path To Deployment Still Murky

While industry experts expect many benefits of V2X technology, there are technological and social hurdles to cross. But there is progress.


Experts at the Table: Semiconductor Engineering sat down to discuss Vehicle-To-Everything (V2X) technology and the path to deployment, with Shawn Carpenter, program director for 5G and space at Ansys; Lang Lin, principal product manager at Ansys; Daniel Dalpiaz, senior manager product marketing, Americas, green industrial power division at Infineon; David Fritz, vice president of virtual and hybrid systems at Siemens EDA; and Ron DiGiuseppe, senior marketing manager, automotive IP segment at Synopsys. What follows are excerpts from that conversation. View part two of the discussion.

L-R: Ansys' Carpenter; Ansys' Lin; Infineon’s Dalpiaz; Siemens EDA’s Fritz; Synopsys‘ DiGiuseppe.

L-R: Ansys’ Carpenter; Ansys’ Lin; Infineon’s Dalpiaz; Siemens EDA’s Fritz; Synopsys‘ DiGiuseppe.

SE: What is the potential of vehicle-to-everything technology, and what role will the semiconductor ecosystem play in making this a reality?

DiGiuseppe: V2X is a technology that’s not just years, but decades, in the making. It initially started as a dedicated short-range communications (DSRC) type of technology, and has globally transitioned into a cellular technology, although many of those V2X applications are not just cellular. There are other spectrum allocations V2X can run on, including WiFi or other general-use technology. So it’s not limited to cellular. Also, it’s not just a technology. It’s an application, an outcome, and there are a lot of valuable uses, many of which are safety-related, but there are others, such as efficiency of traffic management notifications. V2X has a wide number of uses. The deployment will be done in stages, and there’s a lot of activity even though it’s taken a long time.

Lin: When I see the keyword V2X, it reminds me of everything about how the car can communicate with anything in the world. It’s a very exciting moment that we’re here today to be able to make some kind of technology to enable great communication between vehicles and people, in network infrastructures and car to car communications. Today, there is already something implemented. For instance, in car network systems we can connect our phone to the car already, but we’re still in the first mile. We’ve started on the journey, but we have a long way to go as far as how to connect car-to-car, how to connect the car to the entire infrastructure of networks, and to the internet. There are a lot of unknowns on the road while we start driving on this journey, and safety and security are definitely the biggest concerns. What if my network is being jeopardized?

Dalpiaz: V2X is part of a much bigger smart grid ecosystem. This will certainly play a very important role, especially as the grid becomes smart and decentralized. This is what will enable the future energy ecosystem, having renewable energies, energy storage systems all connected. And as we see more EVs being used as mobile battery storage. this is something that will certainly enable, and is part of, a smart grid ecosystem that everybody’s talking about.

Fritz: The days of independent semiconductor and software development are over. It is the need for OEMs to control their own destiny, driven by growing consumer and competitive demand, that has all but eliminated the ability to sell a one-size-fits-all product. We’ve known for a very long time that software needs to drive semiconductors, and semiconductors need to drive software. This symbiotic relationship, and the tools and methodologies needed to support this paradigm shift, are essential to producing a highly successful, complex, and competitive solution that meets consumer demands.

SE: What are the discrete pieces of V2X that need to be connected?

Dalpiaz: From the semiconductor point of view, especially with the usage of wide bandgap materials, a few companies are seeing that it’s possible to increase efficiency and power density. Being able to not only provide such solutions, but have everything connected in one box, is part of the smart ecosystem. Then, having the electric vehicles, energy storage, solar — everything combined into one box. Twenty years ago, before the iPhone, we used to have a fax machine, a camera for photographs, a computer. The future of this ecosystem is going to have one box sitting in your home, and have all this stuff connected together. So from the semiconductor point of view, especially with silicon carbide, it is something that is possible today, and it can achieve a very high level of efficiency — about 99%, very close to 100%. And of course, we need to make the system smaller to fit in a vehicle.

DiGiuseppe: One of the key stakeholders is the cellular companies. When we look at cellular V2X, one of the main challenges is interoperability. You have different devices in different model-year cars, so for the vehicle-to-vehicle communications, those different devices need to be interoperable. Then, the car will be talking to the infrastructure, so the roadside units need to be interoperable with the cars and devices in the cars. Then, of course, you have vehicle-to-pedestrians, vehicle-to-e-mobility like vehicle-to-bicycles, vehicle-to-motorcycles interoperability between all the devices over the medium. Whether it’s cellular or Wi-Fi or other technologies, it all needs to be interoperable. That will allow deployments in one locality to work in another locality, because even if they’re interoperable in one deployment in one region, we’ve got to make sure they’re also interoperable in other regions. So it’s a large scale interoperability goal.

Lin: Ron, you’re talking about interoperability, and Daniel talked about the ecosystem. From my side, I would also mention some standards are necessary. For EDA, to help build such an ecosystem and chips, we need some rules to give to engineers as to what’s to be followed. There are two important standards in my mind. One is the vehicle safety standard ISO 26262, which regulates a couple of safety standards for on-road vehicle chip design. Another is the cyber security standard, ISO 21434. If I make a tool, I probably will follow those standards, and then think about how the tool could help users decide a pass/failure criteria regarding their design, making sure to meet the security and safety target from the standard.

DiGiuseppe: In addition to standards, last October the U.S. Department of Transportation released its national V2X deployment plan. That plan, which is still in draft feedback stage, lays out — at least in the U.S. — the whole timeline for deployments. That kind of oversight plan overlays onto the standards that Lang was just talking about. That deployment plan outlines the different contributions from all the different stakeholders, from the automakers/OEMs to the software developers for the applications. So overlaid on top of standards is a deployment plan, and a government deployment plan outlines that. Plus, there are a lot of government stakeholders, like the FCC allocating spectrum, and the Department of Transportation deploying all these deployments, and that’s in addition to the technology providers.

Fritz: It would take days to adequately answer those questions, but at the core, the root design components are connectivity, power, performance, and acceleration. Connectivity with the proper protocols allows computational tasks to be distributed. This is particularly important in automotive, where the physical distance between sensing, actuating and computing nodes is critical for predictable performance. In the case of V2X, connectivity enables the normalization of external data, whether it involves smart city infrastructure or another vehicle. It’s important to note that the form of the shared data grows exponentially with the capacity to describe the environment, and therefore the compute requirements to process and understand it. For example, a data form that can describe signage in the U.S. is relatively small, but one that is universal with variations recognizable is much larger and more ambiguous. This drives design parameters that directly impact manufacturing, development, and service cost functions. Further, the normalization of the data has an impact on the overall design and design component interactions. In the case of power, it goes without saying that high compute requirements, and the associated necessary cooling, can have a significant impact on EV range and manufacturing costs. Performance can take many forms, but as software loads increase with hypervisors, specialized operating systems, and protocol stacks, not to mention very complex application software, all must meet stringent mission critical requirements. Finally, acceleration is of growing importance because it allows workloads to be handed off to specialized hardware that is better equipped to handle that load. An example is running AI inferencing on a CPU is typically far slower and more power-hungry than on an NPU, but a GPU could be idle and available to do the same task. On the other hand, a small CNN can be handled quite easily on a CPU with a few simple instructions. It is at the intersection of these major design components where an OEM will find its differentiation. Therefore, having a system capable of exploring this complex hardware and software space quickly, and with a small team, is critical for an OEM to demand of its suppliers what is required for the success of its platforms. Again, controlling your own destiny is essential to survival.

SE: With all of this interoperability, what happens when there are parts of the ‘everything’ — whether it’s the car or the infrastructure or pedestrians — that are not updated with the latest technologies or different aspects of what needs to be there for conductivity?

DiGiuseppe: In addition to that challenge, this includes backward compatibility for automotive. For someone buying a car in 2025, you would expect any V2X technology to work in 2040. But in the meantime, all those standards that we’re talking about are continuing to evolve, so they need to be backward compatible.

Carpenter: This highlights the need for a digital twin capability for modeling this infrastructure to be able to understand that when we get two years down the road, some devices may not be reprogrammable. We may not be able to flash a particular device. We need to be able to look at that, and be able to simulate that in advance to understand what will happen. What will this do? We’re seeing this show a little bit, even giving a nod to what Ron was talking about earlier with interoperability. We have customers who want to be able to validate real hardware stuff that they’re developing on the lab bench, but they want to do it with the fidelity of a real system operating on a car, in a virtual city, with the live interaction of the channel with a gNodeB 5G base station mounted up on a building someplace, and they want to know how this will work in the context of the situation that it’s supposed to serve. And if something goes wrong in that scene, can we introduce something into this device and run our real silicon development platform against it to understand what happens here. If we go into a deep shadow, a deep fade area, and I’m not getting updates, yet I’m hurtling down the road at a certain speed, how long can I do this before I receive corrective information? What if someone’s software deck out there doesn’t get reprogrammed or doesn’t get the latest version of the standard safety protocols or something like that? We’re going to need this ability to carry models of stuff that was built two or three years ago in today’s infrastructure, model that, and understand in advance what’s going to happen with it so that we have an approach to do this. This is what the Department of Defense is doing today with their digital thread enablement, to have a way to capture that with legacy models of what they built years ago, but apply it in modern missions and understand, ‘Does it work? Does it fit? Does it not fit? What do we need to do to the existing system to make sure that we’re safe here?’ That is an approach we clearly see the automakers beginning to look at as a way to future-proof some of these systems and make sure that they’ve got a way to test them as they go forward.

Fritz: It’s become very clear from several popularized incidents that simply stopping and waiting for tech support to find you and get you going again is not going to be a successful strategy. In the end, the vehicle must make decisions at least as thoughtful as an average human would make. This is entirely possible, but not if too much emphasis is placed in the design phase on the dependencies between communicating (or non-communicating) actors. For this reason, we will always require sophisticated decision-making in-vehicle to be widely accepted.

SE: How does the design team stay up to date with everything?

DiGiuseppe: On the vehicle side, they’re going to be relying on over-the-air (OTA) software updates, which is relatively new in the automotive industry. But clearly, once we identify a software update, we’re going to need to roll out that software update, and OTA is obviously going to be used hand-in-hand with the updates to V2X as it moves forward.

SE: From a developer standpoint, they have to design to these all these regulations. What are the issues here?

Lin: As a software developer, if you think about a vehicle 10 years ago, you mainly just replaced hardware. You replaced your brakes, you replaced your engine, adding some fluid. These are all old styles. Right now, if you have the V2X network, you’d expect probably daily updates because software is evolving daily, and your whole communication system infrastructure is under the whole internet evolution, so you’re going to have to keep pace with it. That’s a lot of work for developers.

Carpenter: There could be implications on edge processing. The telecommunications providers are going to need to put a lot more compute closer to the radio head, and clearly they’re already exploring the possibilities of getting not just central processing cores, CPU cores, but there will be GPU cores and Tensor Processing Units, and we don’t know what all yet for AI, that will be a part of this safety infrastructure and information/infotainment delivery. There’s a lot more compute that’s going to have to happen with a much shorter latency. Augmented reality with heads-up displays — imagine the possibilities coming in safety systems with heads-up displays in cars. Then imagine the amount of processing that it’s going to take. So the telecom providers will need to be a major part of that, together with most of the local government regulatory groups that are going to foster that safety system. Each municipality probably has to decide what do they adopt, what level of standard will they use, and deliver. Who invests in that? The future is really exciting, but there are a few things yet to be sorted out in terms of the investment needed to really deliver that promise.

Dalpiaz: I’m more in the infrastructure side, and one of the questions we always have is, ‘With all this focus on renewables and decentralization of the grid, can the grid handle such expectations or such projects?’ Having more people connecting and feeding energy back into the grid, and managing all of this, that’s always the question that you have to go through and consider.

Fritz: The fact is that keeping up to date is not practical. However, that doesn’t mean that a methodology cannot be employed to accept changes into the development system, and therefore be folded into the development process. CI/CD systems with digital twin golden models already are being developed, with nightly regressions run against complex (and possibly changing) requirements. In this way, requirement changes are automatically addressed as they occur, and solutions can be rolled into an Agile methodology through nightly regressions. This is an important benefit of a modern development methodology that has been used in other industries for years, but it’s just now finding purchase in progressive automotive companies.

View part two of the discussion.

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