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Communications in electric vehicles

Emerging Trends in

Vehicular Communications

 Rajeev Shorey*

 There is a surging interest in automotive communications and control all over the world.  We are witnessing a convergence of novel applications, emerging services, new business models and heterogeneous technologies in the automotive sector (Figure 1). The huge interest in this sector is evident from the fact that a large number of reputed non-OEMs — Microsoft, IBM, Cisco and Google, to name a few, are investing dollars in this sector, since they see a spate of applications and services emerging in this space in the years to come.



The growing interest in the automotive sector can also be attributed to the convergence of electronic, controls and software with the traditional automobile engineering. Automotive electronics and control software (ECS) is seen as a strong growth area within the automotive sector, with 90 percent of all innovations driven by electronics and software [1]. Up to 40 percent of the vehicles’ costs are now determined by electronics and software [1], [2].


Figure 2 shows the increasing role of Electronics and Software in the automotive sector – from 15 in 1990s to 37 percent in the current decade, an exponential increase of 146 percent [1].

 Under the umbrella of ECS lies vehicular communications, an area that has spawned much research in the last few years [3], [4].  A Vehicular Ad-Hoc Network, or VANET, is a form of mobile ad-hoc network, which provides communications among nearby vehicles and between vehicles and nearby fixed devices, usually described as roadside equipment. Enabled by short-range to medium-range systems that consist of vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V)  or vehicle-to-roadside infrastructure (V2I) communications, the vehicular networks includes real-time and safety applications, sharing wireless channels with mobile applications from large decentralized arrays of service providers. Vehicular safety applications include collision and other safety warnings (Figure 3). Non-safety applications include real-time traffic congestion and routing information, high-speed tolling, mobile infotainment, and many others. Creating high-performance, highly scalable, robust and secure vehicular networking technologies presents an extraordinary challenge to the wireless research community. Figure 3 shows the various vehicle safety scenarios that are enabled by either V2V or V2I communications.



Several factors have contributed to the surging interest in vehicular networks. In December 2003, the U.S. FCC allocated 75 MHz of spectrum in the 5.9 GHz band for Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC) that is expected to be the first wide-scale vehicular communications network in North America. In Europe, the car-to-car communication consortium has been initiated by European vehicle manufacturers, and is dedicated to the objective of further increasing road traffic safety and efficiency by means of inter-vehicle communications. The IEEE 1609 Family of Standards for Wireless Access in Vehicular Environments (WAVE) has come out with standards for vehicular communications at: the MAC (IEEE 1609.4), the Networking (IEEE 1609.3), Security (IEEE 1609.2) and the Application  (IEEE 1609.1) layers. Almost every automotive OEM is investing in V2V and V2I communications. Research in university laboratories in this area is growing rapidly. The Department of Transportation (DoT) in the U.S.A. is an important driver of vehicular communications. Throughout the world, there are many national and international projects devoted to vehicular networks in government, industry, and academia.

In spite of an exponential growth in the automotive sector, there are fundamental challenges that remain to be addressed in the coming years. Some of these challenges in the convergence of technologies and services are:  how to build flexible and scalable system architectures which would  minimize the time-to-market of Telematics platforms; how to implement reconfigurable and upgradeable Telematics platforms that can be designed for protocols of today and of the future; to identify the trend that would be more beneficial for the automotive industry;  how to deal with open  source or vendor-controlled proprietary systems; how to efficiently manage a complex system with numerous heterogeneous technologies and protocols, and at the same time support new entrants of services and applications; and who owns what component in the convergence of technologies and services? These and numerous other challenges thrown open by the convergence in the automotive sector are going to surely keep a large number of engineers and researchers busy for a long time to come.


 [1] Automotive SW Workshop, San Diego, USA, Hans Frishkorn, January 2004.

[2] ‘Global Research and Development: GM Case Study India’, Patrick Popp, Rajeev Shorey and B.G.   Prakash, Convergence 2006, Detroit, MI, USA, October 2006.

[3] Proceedings of The Seventh ACM International Workshop on VehiculAr Inter-NETworking (VANET 2010) in conjunction with ACM MobiCom 2010, September 2010, Chicago, USA.

[4] Proceedings of The Sixth ACM International Workshop on VehiculAr Inter-NETworking (VANET 2009) in conjunction with ACM MobiCom 2009, September 2009, Beijing, China.


*Rajeev Shorey is a Senior Member, IEEE; member of ACM and a Fellow, Indian National Academy of Engineering, and the president of NIIT University, India. Shorey was a manager at GM Research India Science Laboratory, Bangalore and prior to that he was a  staff member at IBM Research Laboratory, New Delhi. Shorey  has been active in the IEEE communication groups as a speaker, author and a member of an IEEE editorial board.  He has also authored a book on communications published by John Wiley & Sons. Rajeev Shorey received his Ph. D. degree in electrical communications engineering from Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore.