USDOT Connected Vehicle Plugfest Highlights

Coauthor: Dirk Tepelmann

Last week, key players of the connected vehicle industry met at the South West Research Institute’s (SwRI) premises in San Antonio, TX for the second edition of the USDOT connected vehicle plugfest.

Image of participants sitting at tables at USDOT plugfest 2017

The USDOT connected vehicle plugfest is an event organized by the US Department of Transportation in cooperation with the Certification Operation Council (COC) to allow manufacturers of WAVE DSRC equipment to come together and test their devices for compliance to the standards and for cross-vendor interoperability.

While the first edition of the event, which took place in Novi, MI last November, was focused on testing Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) communication with On-Board Units (OBUs) as the main testing goal, this time around, the focus was shifted to Road-Side Units (RSUs), which are needed for Vehicle-to-Infrastructure/Infrastructure-to-Vehicle (V2I) communication.

As one of the test tool vendors supporting the COC, Spirent’s team was honoured to participate in the event with our test solution TTsuite WAVE-DSRC, featuring test cases for the IEEE 1609.3 and IEEE 1609.2 standards respectively. Over the 5 days of the event, together with our partners 7Layers, we successfully ran more than 50 test sessions with more than 25 different vendors present at the event.

Image of participants at USDOT plugfest 2017

Besides those conformance test sessions performed in the lab with device vendors who had the opportunity to get their products tested with the test tools provided by COC members, the event also hosted interoperability test sessions, whereby vendors could plug their device with each other and test their capability to exchange V2X messages smoothly.

Our personal highlight of the event was SwRI’s field-tests track, which hosted some 50 drive test sessions with the OBU under test mounted on a vehicle and being tested on GPS accuracy and other relevant metrics defined by SAE J2945/1 standard. Many thanks to SwRI’s staff for the great support during the event and especially for agreeing to take us along for a ride with that beautiful Golf GTI on the field test track.

Although IEEE 1609.2 and the associated security functions could not be tested with the same level of thoroughness as IEEE 1609.3, most of the people we talked to indicated that they were satisfied with the event, both in terms of its organization as well as the benefit they see for their respective products.

Among the challenges mentioned by some participants, the implementation of the TCI interface, which aims at automating the testing process, seemed to occupy a prominent place. Also, the Security Credential Management System (SCMS) and the integration of the security infrastructure was mentioned as one of the hurdles.

Despite those known challenges, this edition was another illustration of how such events can positively impact development of a technology and boost it towards real full-scale deployment. In fact, this was not just an opportunity for the device/software/tool vendors present to identify and potentially fix issues on their products, but also one to identify some ambiguities, both in the base standard documents and in the test specifications. Luckily, with some of the authors of those documents also present at the event, some of those issues could be discussed and resolved right away among stakeholders.

Hopefully another edition of the event will be scheduled in near future, especially to address those features that were not yet fully covered.

Learn more about why the connected car demands a fundamental shift in vehicle testing and QA. Download the white paper: How should the automotive industry test V2X systems?https://www.spirent.com/Assets/WP/WP_How-should-the-automotive-industry-test-V2X-systems.

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