A Software-Defined Approach to Rapidly Integrate V2X Use Cases


While Dedicated Short Range Communication (DSRC) technology currently dominates the automotive market, many argue that fully autonomous vehicles aren’t feasible without widespread 5G cellular connectivity. Because V2X communication technology adoption is unpredictable, it’s essential to stay informed on technological requirements and remain flexible to adapt to changing trends. To be competitive in this emerging market, automotive OEMs and suppliers want to quickly refine their technology roadmap to frame technical relevance and product integration. Though simulations are important, prototyping new ideas is vital to prove new technology viability.


Current Limiting Technology for V2X

As the line between automotive and consumer electronics blurs, automakers are expected to offer systems with a wide range of communication technologies, including 5G connectivity. And while many global automakers and government regulators have supported DSRC, especially in the United States, Japan, and many European countries, DSRC adoption has been slow due to limited bandwidth, lack of interoperability, and inadequate cybersecurity threat clearance. There are several current commercial vehicle-to-vehicle deployments, such as the 2017 Cadillac CTS sedan and 2015 Toyota Prius, but there is no clearly prevalent future technology.

Figure 1. Future technology is rapidly changing.

How Testbeds Are Impacting Standards

Just as with previous standards such as Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM), there is a true race to convergence. A global standardization carries the enormous potential to transform society. Figure 2 shows how GSM started: Contributors vetted ideas and debated until they defined the standard. And, once set, it became ubiquitous and was designed into ultimately billions of devices. Today, in V2X, and especially in cellular vehicle-to-everything (C-V2X), we are at a pivotal moment. Ideas converge and roll into a standard in a short time period. Your opportunity to impact that standard is reaching its peak, so do not miss the window to improve differentiation and compete in the market. However, you need a concrete advantage: How do you explore and prove the viability of your ideas and use cases?

Figure 2. Approaching the Pivotal Moment [1]

The answer is clear: Prototyping. As system complexity increases, you can’t prove viability with simulation—you have to use a testbed, or a prototype. Testbeds are common in the wireless community; a National Science Foundation (NSF) workshop concluded, “Experience shows that the real world often breaks some of the assumptions made in theoretical research, so testbeds are an important tool for evaluation under very realistic operating conditions...development of a testbed that is able to test radical ideas in a complete, working system is crucial.” [2]

How NI Can Help

While the current market lacks C-V2X out-of-the-box solutions, successful wireless researchers who selected software-defined, platform-based solutions for their testbeds used these building blocks:

  • Platform-Based Approach—A very effective way to explore these technologies and prototype them rapidly is to use unified design software, from simulation through implementation, and off-the-shelf hardware. With software as the core platform element, you can build the exact systems you need for your application. With the platform’s extensibility, you can build on your ideas and protect your investments by reusing your existing equipment. Learn how Nokia successfully prototyped a 5G mmWave system.


Figure 3. A one-platform approach is an effective way to rapidly build a testbed.


Figure 4. An expansive NI ecosystem helps you accelerate testbed development.

  • Real-World Successes—NI works with researchers worldwide to advance wireless research, and their use cases are fascinating and inspiring. Studying incredible examples of how researchers transformed novel wireless research ideas into real working prototypes helps us understand where to start and what to use. Learn wireless research prototyping best practices with this wireless research handbook [3].

V2X Tools and Solutions

According to this 3GPP NR V2X work item [4], there are four primary use cases: Vehicle Platooning, Extended Sensors, Advanced Driving, and Remote Driving. These require a new NR sidelink communication strategy that supports low latency and high reliability to meet stringent requirements. Multiple Radio Access Technology such as LTE-V2X, NR V2X, and DSRC would coexist, and frequencies above 6 GHz would be considered. Vehicle communication scenario experiments could determine whether it’s possible to incorporate the latest wireless standards. The following platform-based V2X tools and solutions offer an expansive ecosystem:

Figure 5. This S.E.A. V2X testbed is based on an NI SDR platform (image courtesy of S.E.A.).

  • You can use an NI mmWave Transceiver System—a modular set of hardware—for applications from channel sounding to prototyping real-time two-way communications systems. This system, built on a PXI platform, provides a flexible set of modules that you can combine and configure to meet ever-changing research needs. You also can replace the modular mmWave radio heads with other RF front ends to investigate multiple frequencies with the same base hardware and software, saving engineering design time and achieving maximum system reuse. This hardware, combined with the power of LabVIEW, offers an excellent mmWave communication prototyping platform and helps engineers innovate faster.


Figure 6. A 24.25 to 33.4 GHz and 37 to 43.5 GHz Radio Head (Left) and 71 to 76 GHz mmWave Radio Head (Right)

  • With NI SDRs, you can rapidly prototype wireless communications systems to achieve faster results. Flexible yet affordable SDRs turn a standard PC into a next-generation wireless prototyping tool. Paired with LabVIEW, the NI SDR solution gives you unprecedented hardware and software integration to accelerate your innovation and offers out-of-the-box, standards-based application frameworks for more rapid, focused, component-specific innovation.
Figure 7. NI SDR platforms are highly portable and high-performance.
  • Tata Elxsi’s V2X Emulator is a comprehensive DSRC-based V2X testing solution that can generate real-time RF and controller area network (CAN) signals and emulate real-world scenarios. The V2X Emulator addresses challenges that could occur during real-world field testing. Performing emulator-based testing before field testing would significantly improve test cost, time, and quality.

Figure 8. A Tata Elxsi V2X Emulator Based on an NI Platform (Image Courtesy of Tata Elxsi)


While nobody can predict final V2X communication technology deployment, it is essential to stay informed on technological requirements and remain flexible enough to adapt to changing trends. There is no clear answer about what technology would be prevalent in the future; therefore, it is imperative to cultivate internal capability to refine technology roadmaps and frame technical relevance and product integration in a short period. Though simulations are important, prototyping new ideas is a vital step in proving the viability of new technology. But how do you build a prototype when there isn’t a V2X solution available in the market? The platform-based approach, expansive ecosystem, and best practices from successful wireless researchers help researchers and designers build a V2X testbed and quickly validate with the software-defined approach to improve differentiation and compete in the market.

Additional Resources




[1] “Who created GSM?,” History of GSM, accessed February 18, 2019, http://www.gsmhistory.com/who_created-gsm/.

[2] “Report: NSF Workshop on Future Wireless Communication Research,” NSF Workshop on Future Wireless Communication Networks, accessed February 18, 2019, https://cpb-us-e1.wpmucdn.com/blogs.rice.edu/dist/2/3274/files/2014/08/nsf-wireless-workshop.pdf.

[3] “NI Wireless Research Handbook: 3rd Edition,” http://www.ni.com/en-us/innovations/wireless/5g.html.

[4] “3GPP TSG RAN Meeting #80,” accessed February 18, 2019, http://www.3gpp.org/ftp/tsg_ran/TSG_RAN/TSGR_80/Docs/RP-181480.zip.