The Connected Vehicle - Next Generation ITS


The Real "Car Talk" - Vehicles that Can Communicate with Each Other

The U.S. DOT Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA) \ ITS Joint Program Joint Program Office (ITS JPO) is the major sponsor of the Connected Vehicle program. Connected Vehicle focuses on localized Vehicle-to-Vehicle, Vehicle-to-Infrastructure and Vehicle-to-Device Systems (V2X) to support safety, mobility and environmental applications using vehicle Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC)\Wireless Access for Vehicular Environments (WAVE).  This program has support from most of the automakers and a number of state departments of transportation.

NEWS FLASH! - White House announces that USDOT will proceed with establishing a motor vehicle safety standard for Connected Vehicle, along with guidance on Autonomous Vehicles - See White House Fact Sheet, September, 19, 2016  - ITS America's Press Release on Automated Vehicle Policy and V2V Rule Release


The ITS America Connected Vehicle Task Force addresses a number of challenges and explores opportunities to achieve deployment of short range vehicle-to-X safety and mobility applications and related wireless communications-based intelligent transportation systems.  Issues examined include technical risks such as ensuring interoperability and security; and institutional risks such as addressing liablity and privacy issues, meeting stakeholder needs, and ensuring system sustainablity.

The ITS America Connected Vehicle Task Force does this through dialouge with industry and public sector members, focusing on the challenges of establishing viable public-private partnerships and business models.  These models are ones that that make deployment attractive for both industry and the public sector, that ensured long term technical support and implementation, and assist USDOT, the FCC and state and local authorities in establishing leadership and governance where needed.

With the globalization of the auto-industry and active vehicle communications research programs in other countries, the ITS America Connected Vehicle Task Force also seeks cooperation and lessons leared through international partnerships with association counterparts such as ITS Japan, ITS Canada, Europe's ERTICO, and their stakeholders.

ITS America and the ITS America Connected Vehicle Task Force also interfaces with the Transportation Research Board (TRB), the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE), the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO), The International Road Federation (IRF), the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), the Consumer Electronics Assocation (CEA), and CTIA - The Wireless Assocation, among others.  The Task Force also works to support ITS America's Policy and Business Council and its technical forums on Safety, Sustainablity, Commercial Operations, Personal Mobility, and Cross-Cutting Issues.

ITS America Connected Vehicle Task Force strength is its diverse membership: auto industry, telematics, academic and R&D organizations, ITS systems and systems integrators, USDOT and other the public sector road authorities. The Task Force is currently actively seeking new members the extended ITS industry eco-system to include IT, consumer electronics, and the telecommunications industry.

Just recently, these organizations and the Task Force have banded to together to respond to the The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act, which among other things directed the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to examine the potential for spectrum sharing in the 5.4 GHz and 5.9 GHz bands, and the FCC has opened a rulemaking process to address the issue of spectrum sharing between transportation safety and mobility users of the 5.9GHz band and unlicensed Wi-Fi devices

 The U.S. Department of Transportation has developed a Connected Vehicle Reference Architecture to help guide deployment of components by road operators and automotive, highway and aftermarket equipment manufacters and service providers.  U.S. DOT intends to develop numerous test bed deployments at various locations in the US to jumpstart deployment on our highways.

To learn more about the Task Force, go to the bottom of the page.


The Wireless Landscape and the Next Connected Vehicle

While the needs for connectvity to vehicles can be met to some degree with cellular and other "wide-area" technologies, localized vehicle safety and mobility applications, ones that demand drivers' immediate attention at an intersection, toll booth,  or in traffic among many other speeding vehicles, requires a fast "local-area," short range connection.

In 1997, ITS America petitioned the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to allocate spectrum dedicated to Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS). In 1999, the FCC allocated 75 MHz of spectrum at 5.9GHz for DSRC. In 2004, the FCC adopted technical and service rules for Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC) to ensure interoperablity.  DSRC standards suite, similar to Wi-Fi and developed by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), is also commonly referred as 802.11p in standards development organizations.

Wireless Access in Vehicular Environments (WAVE) are a set of standards within the DSRC suite to allow cooperative and safety critical applications to be supported. DSRC is based on Wi-Fi, and is the core set of standards to support cooperative, safety-critical V2X apllications. Such applications include Forward Collision Warning, Intersection Collision Warning, and many other vehicle safety services.   Furthermore, DSRC is flexible enough to support mobility and environmental applications, such as tolling, traffic, weather, commercial vehicle credentialling and a host of new and existing services.

As new gains from improved crash worthiness of vehicles are harder to come by, crash avoidance technologies, especially ones that interact cooperatively through DSRC, represents the next great technological opportunity to reduce injuries and fatalities on US highways.  Currently, U.S. DOT is constructing a large scale pilot to demonstrate effectiveness of DSRC with a mix of passenger, freight and transit vehicles, with the goal of accelerating the introduction and commercialization of DSRC.  This pilot is being managed by the University of Michigan and a consortium of automobile manufacturers, to include GM, Ford and Toyota among others.

ITS America assists and supports the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (U.S. DOT) connected vehicle program that is focued on the use of DSRC/WAVE.  Currently, USDOT is constructing a large scale pilot to demonstrate effectiveness of DSRC with a mix of light, heavy and transit vehicles, with the goal of accelerating the introduction and commercialization of DSRC.  The anticipated results are an evaluation of the benefits of 10 or more applications across many vehicle, infrastructure, and device categories, using up to 3,000 vehicles.  USDOT anticipates that aftermarket DSRC beacons, incorporated into connected personal navigation devices, for example, will be deployed in existing cars in the beginning to ensure that there is a critical mass of DSRC equipped vehicles to ensure early success of introductory Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) applications.

This DSRC cooperative "Safety Pilot" will help USDOT and industry evaluate the scalability, security, and interoperability of all DSRC devices and applications.  The pilot also plans to explore public acceptance through “driver clinics” designed to gauge reaction of drivers to new devices, applications and services. USDOT will use data collected from the pilot to support a potential National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) 2013 rulemaking, and to jumpstart commercialization in the automotive and consumer electronics. 

Links to more information on these actvities can be found at the bottom of the page.


Challenges in Deploying Vehicle-to-X and Other Wireless Technologies in Transportation

Deployment of DSRC is complex and faces the classic "chicken and egg" problem. Why should vehicle manufacturers invest in developing and paying to install in-vehicle devices (DSRC radios) with no guarantee that there would be any infrastructure-based devices with which to communicate? Conversely, why should State and local agencies invest in the installation of infrastructure-based technology with no guarantee that there would be any in-vehicle devices for their infrastructure-based devices to talk to?

The information gathered by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Research and Innovative Techology Administration (RITA) has convinced USDOT to aggressively pursue Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) technology and applications as the "first adoption" starting point. USDOT is piloting a deployment concept to encourage embedding and retrofiting vehicles with DSRC to get the ball rolling.

U.S. DOT anticipates that a foundational network (or network of networks) will need to be developed to exchange diagnostics, security, authentication data between vehicles and a V2V centralized cloud based network management authority to manage V2V applications nationwide. Options include a network of DSRC or Wifi hotspots at intersections across the country, plus possible utilization of wide-area networks such as cellular and satellite. 

To date, U.S. DOT has been reluctant to consider cellular based telematics because of concerns that cellular carriers will not commit to a single technology (2G, 3G or 4G consistently nationwide etc.) over a long period of time, forcing car owners and state DOTs to constantly upgrade equipment in vehicles and intersections, respectively.  A larger concern is that cellular will not be secure enough maintain the confidentiality and integrity of a Connected Vehicle system that needs to maintain long term public acceptance and sensitive handling of safety critical crash avoidance data.  U.S. DOT is currently considering system architecture, network governance and data security policies that will cite some technical requirements to inform a potential 2013 NHTSA rulemaking. (U.S. DOT work in this area is linked here.)

Telematics Service providers, Infrastructure ITS services (e.g. tolling) as well as other and Machine-to-Machine (M2M) Application service providers (e.g Supervisory Control and Data Aqusition Systems in some healthcare, energy and other sectors) are now questioning whether to commit to 3G, or wait for 4G technology. Road Operators and Vehicle manufactuers must examine future wide area networks services critically, based upon assessment of their potential longevity, and their cost, service quality and coverage.

U.S. DOT is, however, interested in Fourth Generation (4G) Wireless LTE Advanced and other longer range systems as an option to support the Connected Vehicle System.  U.S. DOT will shortly publish reports on LTE Advance and on telematics/M2M, both authored by ITS America (linked here).  These reports suggest that there is an opportunity for LTE to support a Connected Vehicle V2V program, as well as other vehicle telematics and M2M applications.

Both RITA and NHTSA are concerned  about vehicle and transportation infrastructure cybersecurity. In laboratory proof-of-concepts, researchers from University of Washington and University of California San Diego have demonstrated the ability to bridge internal vehicle networks and bypass what the researchers described as “rudimentary” network security protections to gain control over a number of automotive functions and ignore or override driver input, including disabling the brakes, shutting off the engine, and turning off all lights. There is much concern that cellular telematics systems may be channels to insert malicious software or remote commands that would compromise the integrity of safety critical vehicle systems.  

Despite these challenges, it is estimated that the number of M2M connections will grow. Some carriers have predicted that M2M connections will outnumber humans 4-to-1.  Others have predicted 50 billion machines will be connected to each other by 2025.

ITS America, has conducted multiple studies on the impact of Fourth Generation (4G) Wireless Networks on Transportation. 


Transportation and Telecommunications Policy Challenges to Connected Vehicle


Finally, road operators and first responders need reliable communciations.  Evacuations and road closures, responses to major traffic incidents or emergency 911 calls, and natural and man-made disasters, require coordination and communications across a number of public safety organizations. The creation of a public private partnerships to provide new interoperable public safety mobile broadband services to first responders is also important to the safety, security and reliabilty of our transportation infrastructure. Use of vehicle Dedicated Short Range Communications for emergency vehicles is also a priority. Vehicle DSRC can allow First Responders to pre-empt traffic intersection signals or rail crossing signals, as well as electronically warn drivers to the presence of Fire, Police or Emergency Medical vehicles as they weave through traffic.

ITS America has been supportive of the wireless industry in promoting connectivity to vehicles in general. As wireless hand-held devices, aftermarket and embedded "telematics" based applications are appearing in vehicles, ITS America believes that more education, research and technology is needed to reduce the risks of "driver distraction" and its impact on transportation safety.   Our members include a large number of prominent experts on driver behavior, technology and human factors from industry and academia.  In 2010, ITS America published its position statement (URL) on the issue of driver distraction.

To learn more about ITS America's activites, go to our Telecommunications Advocacy page.


ITS America Engagement through Research, Technology Demonstrations and Advocacy

If you are interested learning more about the ITS America sponsored Connected Vehicle Task Force, contact Steven Bayless, Senior Director for Telecommunications and Telematics.

  • To learn more about the ITS America Connected Vehicle Task Force activities, DSRC and other wireless technologies,  visit the Connected Vehicle Task Force Wikispace.  To Join the Task Force, contact Administrative Assistant, Rachel Rettberg at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
  • To learn more about FCC adn DSRC, go to the FCC Dedicated Short Range (DSRC) service page.
  • To learn more about ITS America sponsored Transportation Safety Advancement Group (TSAG) vist their website.

Plan to attend our annual session at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January!

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