In conjunction with the 2012 Bangkok Motor Show, the Automotive Symposium, “Achieving Greater Road Safety with Intelligent Vehicles”, along with other seminars covering issues on Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) and other topics related to automotive products, was held in April. Open to the public, the symposium gathered experts from Thailand, Japan, Europe and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) to exchange knowledge and understanding on telecommunication radio wave technology for intelligent vehicles developed within Thailand and abroad. The Symposium was predominantly attended by members of the local automotive industry and interested regulators.

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According to the event organizer, the Thai Automotive Industry Association (TAIA), “there are plans to modernize the use of radio wave technology to reflect the current consumption, including the revision of regulations, follow-ups and evaluation on the use of such technology in Thailand.” 

Indeed, a member from TAIA expressed that there are some vehicle models already fitted with advance Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) equipment to promote vehicle safety, such as the immobilizer and safety-drive-support. However, the current prerequisite of vehicle radio equipment in Thailand requires such vehicles to obtain a license with the authority before they can be supplied to the market. “This may deter the import of potentially safer vehicles,” said the TAIA member.

As a result, the National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Commission (NBTC) has commenced a review on the standards and licensing requirements for output power and the frequency used by a series of radio communication equipment. These include the transmitter, LF initiator, immobilizer, smart keyless door and others in vehicles. Hence, the Symposium has been timely held to gather input from experts across the globe for NBTC’s consideration. 

Two main concerns were raised in the Symposium: (1) the effects of radio transmitter power output on humans, and (2) radiowave interference in security network and radar. With regards to the first concern, an expert from Germany pointed out that the power output from a mobile phone (that easily emits 2 to 3.6 watts of energy) is significantly higher than the output from any vehicle with ITS equipment (that ranges from only 10 to 100 milliwatts). The expert questioned, “If the general public is accustomed to carrying mobile phones around with them, why should there be any issues of radio transmitting equipment in vehicles?”  

Addressing the second concern, the participants were informed by an expert – a member of the ITU – that “there is already a nearly worldwide allocation of Long Range Radar (LRR) for automotive radar at 76 GHz.” As for Short Range Radar (SRR), the ITU is currently on its task to negotiate with international stakeholders a worldwide allocation of radiolocation service for automotive application, targeting at a frequency range between 77.5 Ghz and 78 Ghz. On top of that, the European Commission is also funding a Coordination and Support Action (CSA) project known as the 79 GHz Project to work towards an “international automotive 79 Ghz frequency.” This initiative aims to “speed up the worldwide harmonized frequency for automotive radar systems in the frequency range between 77 Ghz to 81 Ghz (79 Ghz).”  With these international negotiations taking place, it is likely that this issue can be resolved soon. 

In Japan, for instance, JAMA’s ITS expert Mr. Kumio Segawa (JAMA ITS Sub-Committee member) has revealed the roadmap of Japan to adopt “79 Ghz High-Resolution Radar” in its new Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Strategy. This Strategy includes the application to vehicle radar targeting at reducing traffic fatality to less than 2500 by the fiscal year 2018.

The Symposium, on a whole, was a successful one. It marks a significant step for Thailand as it moves towards better road safety by tapping on ITS and frequency knowledge from experts worldwide. With such proactive dialogue continuing amongst experts, regulators, and industry players, more advanced technology in telecommunication frequency and Intelligent Vehicles can be harnessed to achieve road safety and environmental protection in the near future.



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