“We meet Qualcomm in every tender”

Above: Autotalks Founder and CTO Onn Haran (right) and CEO Hagai Zyss. Credit: Techtime

Autotalks has reached the same interim stage many developers for the automotive industry find themselves in: waiting for their new technologies to reach mass production. This exciting stage is evidenced in the company’s announcement that its orders backlog has grown to approximately $200 million, even though, according to CEO Hagai Zyss, “We are not at the mass production stage as of yet.”

Israel-based Autotalks is widely considered the first company to develop Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X) chipsets, enabling communication between vehicles, other road users, and traffic infrastructure. It was also the first company to integrate DSRC (Dedicated Short-Range Communications) technology and the competing C-V2X (cellular V2X) technology on a single chipset. To date, it’s the only company in the world that provides chipsets that use both technologies, and its designs have received awards from six large automakers.

Pioneer of the Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X) market

Autotalks was founded in 2008 and, to date, has raised $130 million. In an interview with Techtime, the Founder and CTO Onn Haran and CEO Hagai Zyss discussed what the competition in the Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X) sector looks like, the target gate for the global industry, and where, in his opinion, the greatest potential of the new market lies (hint: it’s not cars).  “The automotive industry has exhausted its ability to enhance vehicle safety. Consequently, this has fueled the need for a radical change, which only V2X can provide,” says Onn Haran.

“Electronic safety sensors, such as Mobileye, can detect basic driver mistakes but aren’t doing enough to really transform the industry. Only V2X technology can make a major difference in road safety since it is the only sensor that can detect dangers not merely in line of sight.” Haran and Zyss first met during their military service.

Later, Haran worked at Texas Instruments and was CTO at Passave, while Zyss joined EZchip Semiconductors and Ceragon, where he was deputy CEO. In 2008, Haran discovered that the deployment of vehicle-to-vehicle communications technologies was well underway in Japan, subsequently influencing the founding model of Autotalks. The company’s first prototype was deployed in 2010 on an FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array) which saw the company win its first tender in Japan.

Autotalks' solution for Vulnerable Road Users (VRUs) outside the vehicle
Autotalks’ solution for Vulnerable Road Users (VRUs) outside the vehicle

Qualcomm has changed the entire industry

Initially, the industry focused on solutions supporting the proprietary DSRC protocol, but later, Qualcomm, who dominated the cellular industry at the time, promoted its C-V2X concept – partly because many of the protocols in this technology were born in the cellular industry. Most countries in the world adopted the C-V2X protocol, except for the European Union, which opted to continue to deploy DSRC. “We began developing DSRC solutions and later adopted C-V2X. Today we are the only company that provides a dual-mode chipset that can support both.”

Techtime: What is the current competitive situation?

Zyss: “Qualcomm is our main competitor. We always compete head-to-head with them in every tender. Besides them, we have no other big competitors in the C-V2X market. In Europe, NXP is our main competitor as they currently offer a silicon device for every possible system in a vehicle, except for cellular. China’s Huawei, which tried to enter this market in the past, was hindered by the US who blocked its access to the manufacturing of advanced technologies.”

The global revolution of 2024-2025

“The barrier to entry in this industry is high, and the computing and development challenges faced are exceptionally difficult. A chipset needs to receive data from a varied and vast number of vehicles simultaneously and in real-time as well as to validate the source of each broadcast. Our chipset can validate the communication signals from 200 different sources simultaneously. There are also very stringent market requirements and regulations that need to be met. Therefore, to ensure we deliver quality solutions, we don’t behave like a startup, but approach business like any large corporation that has to work very carefully and meticulously to meet quality and regulatory requirements.”

When will the technology reach market?

“We expect the breakthrough year for mass use of this technology to be 2024-2025. What we will see in 2023 is that V2X will be placed in the safety star ratings of vehicles in Europe, EuroNCAP. Once it is known that V2X can positively influence a car’s safety score, we will see a surge in carmakers planning for V2X deployments.”

Surprise: the largest market will be outside the vehicle

Haran says that Autotalks is also active in the infrastructure sector, which is smaller than the vehicles market. “Some traffic lights can already identify an approaching emergency vehicle and enable it to pass uninterrupted. Our prime target in this market is protecting vulnerable road users. You must remember that the number of fatalities inside a vehicle is lower than that outside of a car. To this end, the current trend in large cities is to encourage the use of micro-mobility which means that, unfortunately, cyclists and scooters are increasingly the victims of accidents involving cars.

“Today, the bestselling electric vehicle is the electric bicycle. It is common in Europe to spend as much as €5,000 on an electric bicycle. We believe they should all be fitted with V2X protection because other vehicle sensors cannot accurately identify them. This brings us to our next challenge – a V2X system for bicycles. Our ZooZ micro-mobility platform must be affordable for the manufacturer and compact enough to fit onto a bike. Remember, a bike’s speed and mechanics are different, so they require different hardware and software optimization. But we see real potential in this market and believe that the non-vehicle market will ultimately be V2X’s greatest opportunity.”

Autotalks Doubles Backlog to $200 Million

Autotalks, a provider of V2X (Vehicle-to-Everything) communication solutions, announced that it has doubled its backlog orders in 2021 to $200 million. During 2021, Autotalks has doubled the number of its automotive OEMs clients to six, after winning contracts to provide its V2X chipsets to three additional top auto manufacturers – one in Europe, one in Japan, and one in China. The company has been supplying its V2X chipsets for global infrastructure and smart city projects and has secured contracts for future large projects.

The V2X market in which Autotalks is operating is growing rapidly. Virtually all RFIs (Requests for Information) or RFQs (Requests for Quotes) of Telematics Control Units (TCUs) in 2021 required the installation of V2X devices. Alternatively, some OEMs are adding dedicated standalone V2X Electronic Control Units (ECUs). This trend was partly driven by the perpetrations toward the inclusion of V2X in the safety performance assessment program EuroNCAP in Europe and the similar Chinese program C-NCAP.

“There are good reasons why 2021 was a very good year for us,” said Hagai Zyss, CEO of Autotalks. “Autotalks offers the world’s only dual mode V2X chipset solution, which suits both the DSRC protocol that is used in Europe, and the C-V2X protocol that is used in the US and China. We offer flexible architecture, backed up by an innovative roadmap which matches the requirements of OEMs. On top of that, our V2X system is isolated in a way that provides the highest possible security and safety.”

Zyss continued: “Looking forward towards 2022, we expect additional major wins of top OEMs. Simultaneously, we aim to use our V2X-based micro-mobility platform, ZooZ, in order to expand safety for vulnerable road users such as cyclists and e-scooter riders.”

Foxconn invests $10 million in Autotalks

Foxconn Interconnect Technology (FIT), a subsidiary of Foxconn (Hon Hai Technology Group), the world’s largest electronics manufacturer, announced investment of $10 million in Autotalks, a strategic collaboration agreement between the two companies. The joint micro-mobility activity will start this year, on the basis of Autotalks’ ZooZ micro-mobility platform which was recently launched.

ZooZ platform is composed of a ZooZ device installed on the bike or scooter, alerting when a V2X vehicle is endangering the cyclist, and a ZooZ smart sign, lighting up when a ZooZ device is approaching an intersection. The joint automotive activity will start early next year. Autotalks provides V2X (Vehicle-to-Everything) chipset to allow direct communication between vehicles and all other road users, without using the cellular network.

Each unit transmits ten times per second its location, speed, and heading. Each unit receives messages from other road users, analyzes those locally, and detects a risk if exists. The communication is range is more than 300 meter in dense urban areas and more than 1 kilometer on highways. “We see Autotalks as the provider of the world’s most trusted V2X solution,” said Thomas Fann, Special Assistant to Chairman at FIT.

Autotalks joins SECUR project to validate V2X role in road safety

Autotalks, a global leading provider of V2X (Vehicle-to-Everything) communication solutions, joined the SECUR (Safety Enhancement through Connected Users on the Road) project, coordinated by UTAC CERAM Millbrook to improve the safety of all road users. The project will provide several inputs on testing and assessing the V2X systems for the European New Car Assessment Program (EuroNCAP) in 2025. SECUR consists of the world’s leading OEMs, Tier1s and test labs, including Toyota, Honda, Renault, Volkswagen, Denso, Bosch, Continental, Valeo and many other companies. Autotalks is currently the only semiconductor and the only Israeli company in the group that will contribute its expertise in how V2X communications can improve road safety.

In the next two years, SECUR has set a goal to complete the task of defining the V2X test procedure that will serve as the basis for the new safety rating by the EuroNCAP 2025. Euro NCAP is responsible for the industry’s most important safety rating, and in recent years has increasingly focused its attention on advanced safety technologies. V2X harnesses vehicle to road users and vehicle to traffic infrastructure communications to improve road safety. Global road safety agencies project a significant reduction in traffic accidents with the adoption of V2X technology.

At the conclusion of the two-year long research period, results will be made public and will be integrated into the Euro NCAP 2025 roadmap. In the past, Euro NCAP recommendations were almost always followed by similar organizations around the world. This will no doubt be the case with V2X. Traditionally, safety features approved by EuroNCAP have become common in nearly every new vehicle within a couple of years. The significance of EuroNCAP is underscored by the fact that 89% of all vehicles sold in Europe have a 4- or 5-star rating and 97% of all new vehicles sold in Europe have a EuroNCAP rating.

“We believe our decade of experience with V2X technology can serve as a tremendous contribution in defining the standard for the industry,” said Onn Haran, CTO, and Founder of Autotalks. He added that the acceleration of V2X deployment, combined with the crucial NCAP stamp of approval, once granted, will lead to V2X being installed in every new car.

Autotalks’ production-ready chipset fully meets all the requirements for European deployment. In addition, the dual-technology operation enables a single platform, supporting both DSRC and C-V2X for reducing development costs and efforts by OEMs and tier1s.

Autotalks showcased its V2X chipset in a large scale demo in Shanghai

V2X chipset provider Autotalks has successfully collaborated with seven consortiums and five car makers including Great Wall, Dongfeng and Brilliance Auto, a top US car maker and a leading European car maker, in China’s largest ever C-V2X demonstration, which took place in Shanghai.

Autotalks demonstrated the interoperability and conformance of its V2X solution to the latest Chinese C-V2X standard.

The demonstration took place as part of the IMT-2020/CAICV/China SAE 2020 C-V2X “New Four Layers” event. The interoperability application demonstration was part of the China SAE Congress and Exhibition that was held on October 27th-29th.

Autotalks’ OEM partners, conducted demonstration rides for hundreds of visitors, exhibiting conformance and interoperability at all levels: chipset, system, software and security. The terminal units at the ‘’New Four Layers” demonstration were powered by Autotalks’ dual-mode (DSRC/C-V2X) chipsets, showcasing the maturity and readiness of Autotalks’ module eco-system. The terminal units were based on C-V2X modules by Murata, Fibocom, M2Motive and Titan, and were running Neusoft’s VeTalk V2X software. The “New Four Layers” event also demonstrated integration with HD Map, accurate positioning services, cloud platform, and tested more complex driving scenarios compared to last year’s event.

Autotalks’ production grade C-V2X solution meets all Chinese performance, configuration, throughput and security requirements and is ready for deployment there as well as in other international markets, following extensive testing in China. The company’s deployment-ready, 2nd generation dual-mode V2X chipset is the world’s first available solution which supports C-V2X based on 3GPP release 14 and 15 specifications with embedded global V2X cyber-security functionality and RX and TX antenna diversity.

In addition to the application demonstration, Autotalks successfully participated in multiple large-scale tests, showcasing superior performance in multi-OBU (On-Board Units) environment. The large-scale tests, which involved more than 180 OBUs in multiple settings, simulated more difficult environments that represent real-world edge cases.

The 2020 “New Four Layers” demonstration follows Autotalks’ successful participation in last year’s event and the selection of Autotalks for a mass production C-V2X program in China, one of the first to be deployed in the huge Chinese market.

Emergency Vehicles to control Traffic Lights

A cooperation between Autotalks from Israel and Applied Information from Atlanta, Georgia, may change many concepts regarding the role of V2X (Vehicle-to-Everything) communications. The two companies are carrying out a unique active V2X deployment, that allows emergency vehicles to control roadside units such as traffic lights.

Applied Information has developed a Dual-Mode/Dual-Active Roadside Unit to communicate with vehicles equipped with V2X On Board Units. The systems employs Autotalks’ dual mode chipsets, that supports both DSRC standards (802.11p/ITS-G5) and C-V2X (Cellular V2X based on 3GPP release 14 and 15 specifications) with embedded cyber-security functionality. The chipset allows customers to easily toggle between DSRC and C-V2X.

The initial deployment will take place in Alpharetta, Georgia. In Alpharetta, over 150 traffic control devices are connected. Applied Information has signed similar agreements in Texas and Hawaii, where the two companies are cooperating in similar deployments. During the Alpharetta pilot, the system will activate a signal preemption function which transfers the normal operation of the traffic control devices to a mode of operation which gives the right of way to emergency vehicles such as ambulances and firefighting vehicles, while all other traffic is brought safely to a halt.

Bryan Mulligan, president of Applied Information (left) and Yuval Lachman, VP of business development at Autotalks
Bryan Mulligan, president of Applied Information (left) and Yuval Lachman, VP of business development at Autotalks

As a result, these vehicles can arrive to their destination earlier and have better chances to save lives. The deployment is expected to include other use cases beyond emergency vehicles, such as transit bus priority, red light running alerts and “get ready for green” message to make traffic move more safely and efficiently through signalized intersections.

“Our work is another proof that the auto industry is determined not to wait until the US regulator will decide which V2X technology to deploy. Whether C-V2X or DSRC is selected, there is a move to deploy agnostic technologies,” said Yuval Lachman, VP of business development at Autotalks. “The AI/Autotalks solution enables roadway operators to confidently deploy V2X technology today,” said Bryan Mulligan, president of Applied Information.

Autotalks to provide more than 1 Million C-V2X Chips for a new Chinese Car

The Israeli fabless Autotalks, announced that its chipset was selected for a mass production C-V2X program in China. Techtime has learned that the company will provide more than 1 million communication chipsets, to be embedded in the Telematics Control Unit (TCU) built by a top Tier-1 automotive provider. This is the biggest commercial design win of Autotalks, and one of the biggest connected car projects in China.

The unidentified Chinese car producer plans to build more than million connected cars, and to sell them in the local market. They will be able to connect with each other via the cellular networks, and wherever available, to connect with the local connected road infrastructures. The company said that the selection of its chipset for the project followed rigorous testing and evaluation that proved  it radio performance, security, thermal resiliency and transmit diversity.

It also followed a long process of adapting Autotalks’ products to the Chinese regulations, which was culminated in October 2019, when Autotalks successfully showcased its chipset’s conformance to the Chinese C-V2X standard and its OSCCA-compliant security requirements during interoperability demonstration in a multi-brand C-V2X environment.

This demo brought together 20 automotive companies, including leading automakers ,with 50 demonstration teams to examine how they are working together in a close-to-real-world setting. Autotalks’ C-V2X chipset was used by five different automakers: Renault-Nissan, Brilliance Auto, FAW, Great Wall and another major European OEM.

“This important win is a clear testimony to the trust that leading OEMs and Tiers put in Autotalks, as a global V2X chipset provider,” said Hagai Zyss, CEO of Autotalks. According to the research firm IHS Markit, China is expected to lead the global V2X market, with an estimated 629,000 light vehicles produced in the region equipped with C-V2X technology in 2020, and the country is expected to stay in the lead through 2024.