When Cars Talk: An overview of V2X Technologies

Cars are no longer self-contained mechanical modes of transportation. Thanks to added connectivity, they are interactive members of their environment, with the ability to communicate with other vehicles, surrounding infrastructure and more. This subset of connected car features are referred to as Vehicle to Everything (V2X) systems.
V2X systems require high-speed connectivity to implement the real-time functionalities they seek to implement. This connectivity is provided by DSRC, or Dedicated Short-Range Communications. DSRC uses a protocol similar to the IEEE Wi-Fi standard, using 75 MHz of spectrum in the 5.9 GHz band exclusively for intelligent transportation systems. These systems broadcast useful data about their host vehicle including GPS position, path data, velocity, future paths, and more. Broadcast over 300 meters away at a frequency of 10 Hz, this information can be picked up by other vehicles and connected infrastructure to implement advanced vehicle safety and convenience-enhancing systems.
Vehicle to Vehicle (V2V) systems let vehicles communicate with one another wirelessly in real time, allowing them to inform their drivers of upcoming threats and obstacles. This leads to improved road safety, as cars using DSRC can be alerted of emergency vehicles coming around a corner, cars travelling in their blind spots, or hidden cars occupying a pass lane. Even in a car driven by a human, notification of these conditions can greatly reduce the risk of an accident or other incident. In cars with autonomous driving capabilities, V2V communication can be used to implement efficient platooning, improving mileage and trip time for all cars in the platoon.
Vehicle to Infrastructure (V2I) technology can be used in similar ways to V2V, increasing road safety and enhancing driver experience. Traffic signals can broadcast their color and how much time remains before they change – giving drivers ample time to adjust their behavior before approaching an intersection. Parking areas can advertise open parking spots to vehicles over DSRC, reducing time wasted roaming a parking lot to find an empty space.
Apart from V2V and V2I systems, there exists another classification of systems called Vehicle to Pedestrian (V2P). These systems involve interacting with pedestrians around a vehicle, alerting them via smartphone notification of a passing emergency vehicle, the arrival of their rideshare, or where their vehicle is located.
These technologies are a clear example of the benefit to be gained from a transportation environment occupied by connected vehicles. Allowing vehicles to interact with their surroundings and users wirelessly and in real time improves both the safety and the quality of our roads and other transportation infrastructure. As vehicles move closer to perfect autonomy, the value of their ability to communicate will only increase. As cutting-edge technologies like 5G come to fruition, the scale on which these applications can be applied will widen drastically, and new ways to improve transportation will make their way into the world.