There are about 1.4 billion cars in the world, with an average annual increase of 4% per year. Meanwhile, according to the World Health Organization, traffic fatalities in the world amount to 1.35 million individuals per year.
Intelligent transport systems (ITS) represent the integration of information and communication technologies (ICTs) and applications that can achieve a reduction in traffic and pedestrian fatalities, and enhance transport infrastructure systems, through the realization of future automated driving.
Connected and automated vehicle technologies can gradually eliminate the need for drivers; reduce transportation costs, traffic accidents, fatalities, injuries, and CO2 emissions; improve traffic flow and reduce travel time; and provide transportation accessibilities. Ultimately, self-driving cars are projected to reduce traffic fatalities by 90%.
In the ITU Radiocommunication Sector (ITU–R), various studies, Recommendations and Reports are addressing the transition from ITS to automated vehicles.
The ITU World Radiocommunication Conference 2015 (WRC‑15) initiated Agenda item 1.12 to seek globally or regionally harmonized spectrum for ITS applications.
As the “first generation” of ITS deployment, electronic toll collection (ETC) systems and vehicle information and communication systems (VICS) have been widely deployed in the world.
The “second generation” witnessed the emergence of dedicated short-range communication (DSRC) systems and collision avoidance radar, as well as the integration of radiocommunication and radiolocation technologies for vehicular applications.
The “third generation” revolves around the research and development to enable connected cars and fully automated driving systems. ITU–R has been, and is, central to this evolution, as the identification and harmonization of frequencies, especially radiocommunication spectrum in the mobile service depending on the application, are the necessary foundation for any deployment.
Specifically, radiocommunication technologies and technical/operational characteristics for ETC, VICS and DSRC were developed and standardized in ITU–R, in Working Party 5A in particular.
Mobile wireless communications, such as cellular, radio local area network (RLAN), etc. are now also being considered for ITS applications, such as traffic information systems and info-communication systems.
As a radiolocation sensor, standards for 79 GHz short-range vehicular radar were developed and completed in ITU–R Working Parties 5A and 5B — the responsible groups for such studies. This millimeter wave radar is expected to integrate with radiocommunication systems to enable automated driving vehicles.
In 2015, ITS Connect was introduced in Japan to use vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) radiocommunications, collectively known as “V2X”, using 760 MHz DSRC to provide drivers much needed safety information that cannot be picked up by onboard sensors. This includes traffic signal information and information about the presence of vehicles and pedestrians in blind spots. V2X is expected to reduce the number of accidents in Japan by roughly 40%.
V2I communications, for example, provide rightturn collision caution. While waiting for a right turn at an intersection, drivers are warned by audio and visual alert on the monitor regarding cross traffic such as pedestrians. This is also a critical technology for pedestrians with hearing disabilities or visual impairment.
V2I communications also provide approaching red light caution. When approaching an intersection with a red traffic signal, the system will warn the driver with audio and visual alerts on the monitor, and may overtake the driver controls by stopping the vehicle.
V2V communications provide radar-based cruise control communications with other vehicles in order to maintain safe distances and minimize speed fluctuations.
When an emergency vehicle equipped with an ITS Connect DSRC unit is approaching with its sirens, V2V communications provide drivers the approximate location and distance of the emergency vehicle, as well as the direction in which it is moving.
In Japan, ETC is now upgraded to ETC2.0. In addition to current ETC features, ETC2.0 integrates additional features to provide supporting information such as for safe driving, congestion avoidance, and emergency and disaster response conditions, while using the same 5.8 GHz DSRC spectrum.
Since 1994, ITU–R Working Party 5A has been developing Recommendations and Reports for ITS based on ITU–R Question 205. A new ITU–R Question on “Connected automated vehicles (CAV)” is under consideration for adoption and approval by ITU–R Study Group 5 (in September 2019) to address the standardization requirements for automated vehicles.
In ITU–R Working Party 5A, Recommendation ITU–R M.2121: “Harmonization of frequency bands for Intelligent Transport System in the mobile service” describes global or regional harmonized frequencies for the 5.8/5.9 GHz bands, and the existing 760 MHz band for ITS applications.
A new ITU–R Question on “Connected automated vehicles” is under consideration for adoption and approval by ITU–R Study Group 5 to address the standardization requirements for automated vehicles.
Report ITU–R M.2444 “Examples of arrangements for Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) deployments under the mobile service” provides supplemental information for Recommendation ITU–R M.2121. While Report ITU–R M.2445 “Intelligent Transport System (ITS) usage” includes long-term evolution (LTE)-based V2X requirements and applications.
For automated vehicles, millimeter waves above the 60 GHz band are under study as supplemental spectrum, such as for the trucks and trailers platooning system.
The ITU World Radiocommunication Conference 2015 (WRC-15) initiated Agenda item (AI) 1.12 to seek globally or regionally harmonized spectrum for ITS applications.
At WRC-19, the conclusion of AI 1.12 seeks to adopt a WRC Resolution which describes such spectrum in an ITU–R Recommendation (i.e. Recommendation ITU–R M.2121) to accelerate the development of ITS systems and technologies to fully realize the deployment of automated and connected vehicles.
Connected vehicles are no longer in the distant future; they are available now.
*This article is one of a series commissioned for ‘Terrestrial Wireless Communications’ edition of ITU News Magazine. Views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of ITU.