Network Considerations for Flawless Car-to-Car Communication

By: Pam Baker| - Leave a comment


Car-to-car communication is an important element of the larger connected car network. Vehicles must also communicate with static objects such as traffic lights, stop signs and lane markings, referred to as vehicle-to-infrastructure communication. All this back and forth means that automakers are working with multiple networks that ultimately must all connect together.

Standards Start the Innovation Engine

Essentially, a connected car is a mobile node in the network. It must be able to continuously feed and receive data to and from the network. Car-to-car communication implies that a vehicle must also be able to exchange information with other vehicles in real time.

Fortunately, the U.S. Department of Transportation has established a set of standards that aid in interoperability, cooperative systems and in connecting the overall connected car system. But there are other standards in play with regard to car-to-car communication.

“Vehicle-to-vehicle technology uses dedicated short-range communications (DSRC), a standard set forth by bodies like FCC and ISO. Sometimes it’s described as being a Wi-Fi network because one of the possible frequencies is 5.9 GHz, which is used by Wi-Fi, but it’s more accurate to say ‘Wi-Fi-like,'” explained ExtremeTech.

Data and Analytics on Overdrive

Resting at the center of these capabilities is massive amounts of streaming data and rocket-fast, real-time analytics. Much of that data comes from a wide array of on-board sensors that must share findings with other vehicles. But it isn’t sufficient to handle the sensor data and analysis solely at the vehicle level in car-to-car communications.

“Already, many cars have instruments that use radar or ultrasound to detect obstacles or vehicles,” explained Will Knight in the MIT Technology Review. “But the range of these sensors is limited to a few car lengths and they cannot see past the nearest obstruction.”

The key to a successful connected car network is not just in data transfer from the vehicle to the network and back, but in the fast exchange of sensor data between many vehicles — the real-time analysis of which triggers vehicle and driver actions.

Top Network Considerations for Car-to-Car Communication

All of this puts extreme stress on the network and requires a more flexible network infrastructure.

“To do all that, they need the cloud. Because connected cars need data. Lots of data,” wrote Dirk Wollschlaeger, general manager of IBM’s Global Automotive Industry, in Wired. “Automobiles today are already packed with an impressive amount of processing power because some 100 million lines of software code help run the typical luxury vehicle.

“But as connected cars before were sophisticated rolling wired devices, the amount of information flowing back and forth from them will skyrocket. And so they will demand for [sic] the cloud’s scalability and storage capabilities.”

Whether your network is all cloud or a hybrid solution, you’ll need to consider these four concepts as top priorities:

1. Security

Data in car-to-car communication will have to be closely guarded. Attackers can put innocent lives at risk if they change the data or analysis the driver and the vehicle use. Security must be a top priority and a constant effort.

2. Real-Time Capabilities

The entire network must be always available and fully capable of accommodating real-time data streams and analytics.

3. Scalability

The number of sensors on vehicles is growing, and so is the data they generate. Multiply that by the number of connected vehicles being made, and you begin to get an inkling as to why network scalability is crucial.

Remember: Connected cars are not just communicating with one another, but with their owners, manufacturers and dealers, too. The industry will soon be moving from big data to extreme data, and the networks being used must be able to grow with it.

4. Resiliency and Redundancy

The network must be able to continue to operate even with faults and challenges to normal operation (resiliency) and it must contain rolling backups in case something does fail (redundancy).

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About The Author

Pam Baker

Freelance Writer

Pam Baker is an award-winning freelance journalist based in Georgia. Her published credits number in the thousands, including books, e-books, e-briefs, white papers, industry analysis reports and articles in leading publications, including Institutional Investor, CIO, Fierce Markets and InformationWeek, among many others. Her latest book, "Data Divination: Big Data Strategies," has been met with rave reviews, was featured in a prestigious National Press Club event, is recommended by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for business executives and is currently being used as a textbook in both business and tech schools in universities around the world. Baker is a "big-picturist," meaning she enjoys writing on topics that overlap and interact, such as technology and business. Her fans regualrly follow her work in science, technology, business and finance.

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