EXCLUSIVE: Cohda Wireless CEO talks to TN about V2X deployment
Issue Date: 2016-02-18


This exclusive interview with Paul Gray, CEO of Cohda Wireless in Australia, talking about supplying V2X tech for GM Cadillac and the relative benefits of DSRC and LTE, first appeared in the February edition of the free Telematics News Bulletin monthly magazine. Details of how to subscribe to the magazine are at the bottom of this article.

Telematics News (TN): Can you talk us through a typical day at Cohda? How has your role and the company changed since you moved from VP Engineering to the CEO position?

Typical days at Cohda are always busy. Since Delphi awarded the project to Cohda to supply all the V2X software for the GM Cadillac-CTS, a large portion of the engineering team has been working hard to ensure that all of GM's stringent requirements are met. Meanwhile there are several Tier One V2X development projects to be supported, and equipment to be delivered to Road Authorities for V2X trials around the world – this keeps both our development and testing teams busy. Our R&D team is focused on tracking international V2X standards and innovating to maintain our competitive edge.

When I was VP Engineering the company only had 10 employees and I was focused on product development. Today Cohda has 40 employees and has office in Adelaide, Detroit, and Munich and I take a broader view. As does any CEO of a SME I spend time focusing on the near term finances of the company, but I also spend a good amount of time on Cohda's strategic direction and creating value for our shareholders.

Recently Cohda demonstrated the V2X-Radar concept on the streets of Adelaide, Australia. What is the thinking behind this concept? How does it differ from "traditional" V2X technology?

V2X-Radar is simply software that runs on top of a "traditional" V2X system, transforming it into a 360 degree radar system that can detect buildings, road signs, and even older, unequipped vehicles. When V2X signals propagate between two vehicles or between roadside infrastructure and a vehicle they bounce off of all the objects present around the vehicle. The V2X-Radar software in the receiving vehicle uses these V2X signals themselves – without modification – to pinpoint the location of all of these objects. V2X-Radar can even detect unequipped vehicles around corners and is unaffected by rain, snow, or fog. The ability to detect unequipped vehicles can transform the business case for V2X deployment.

There appears to be two flavours of V2X emerging – DSRC and LTE. How do you view the relative strengths/weaknesses of these two?

Technically there is little difference between DSRC and LTE. The key difference is that the V2X community has already spent a decade developing DSRC – standards have been published to ensure that all the required functionality is present, large international trials have been conducted to demonstrate that safety benefits can be delivered as predicted, interoperability testing has been undertaken to ensure that equipment from different vendors work with each other, and now certification programs are being developed to ensure that deployments proceed smoothly. Despite the press that LTE has received, it is at the very beginning of all this, and it will take another decade before LTE has reached the same maturity as DSRC for V2X.

Will V2X only be used for safety applications? Or are driver information and entertainment services also emerging using this technology?

On the other hand, LTE is a very mature technology for providing internet connectivity, and is very good at doing this. Modern vehicles will have two systems – and LTE-based infotainment sub-system for delivering driver information and entertainment services, and a DSRC-based V2X sub-system for delivering safety. The infotainment sub-system will be built to a price, and the V2X sub-system will be built to a standard.

How is Cohda positioning itself in this space? Are you looking to be a hardware supplier or technology licensing company? How are you involved in promoting deployment?

In the nascent market Cohda needed to provide complete systems. However, as the market grows and matures Cohda will move away from being a hardware supplier to become a software licensing company. This is evidenced by our recent announcements with both u-blox (who will license our V2X module) and Siemens (who we will be supplying road side units to). We promote deployment by helping to build better and better business cases for deployment.

Can you give us some predictions for the implementation of V2X? When will the first systems become available? What will they look like? Which countries will be first to deploy? Will V2V happen first, with V2X waiting for government support?

GM will be the first car maker to have a V2X system in a production vehicle, with their CTS Cadillac going into production at the end of 2016. Meanwhile in Europe, the Corridor Project will ensure that there is infrastructure in place for the early adopters. Deployment work is happening in parallel in the both the US and Europe, so it will be difficult to pinpoint exactly who deploys first – and even then there will only be months in it.