Vehicular Technology Conference Focuses on Wireless

Learn about the latest applications

8 July 2013

With the introduction of car radios in the 1920s, communications has been at the core of vehicular electronics from the very beginning. And communications is key today, given the car sensor and control networks being developed for tomorrow’s vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2x) data links. No surprise, then, that the focus of the next annual IEEE Vehicular Technology Conference (VTC) is mainly on what’s happening in wireless communications and its mobile, nomadic, vehicular, and transport applications.

Sponsored by the IEEE Vehicular Technology Society, this year’s fall conference will be held from 2 to 5 September in Las Vegas. VTC’s fall sessions (so called although the September dates are technically in summer) are held in North America, and its spring sessions usually take place in Europe or Asia.

“This brings participants from more countries—and meets the increasing demand for opportunities to present high-impact research results,” says IEEE Senior Member Alexander M. Wyglinski, cochair of the technical program. “It’s a very international conference. We’ll have a number of papers from Asia and Europe, as well as North America.”

About 500 to 600 researchers and practitioners are expected, roughly half from academe, 30 percent from industry (mainly concerned with communications), and 20 percent from government, says IEEE Member Jeffrey Miller, the conference’s general chair. But he adds: “We’ve been pushing lately to get more transportation-related people.” Miller is editor in chief of IEEE Intelligent Transportation Systems Magazine.

A plenary address will be given by IEEE Senior Member Alberto Broggi, professor of computer engineering at the University of Parma, Italy, and a pioneer in autonomous vehicles. In 2010, Broggi’s research group, VisLab, sent a driverless car from Parma to Moscow to Shanghai, an incompletely mapped route 16 000 km (9900 miles) long, while a monitoring vehicle followed along behind. In another plenary session, an official from the U.S. Department of Transportation will discuss standards and research.


The technical sessions will present both basic and applied research, according to Wyglinski, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at Worcester Polytechnic University, in Massachusetts, and director of its Wireless Innovation Laboratory. “Showing fundamental results in underlying theories, new proofs, or [new] algorithms is valuable,” he says, “But so is showing how that fundamental knowledge can be implemented or showing proofs of concept, deployments, and prototypes. It’s important for engineers to know how things pan out in real life.”

Well over 450 papers are scheduled, culled from about 750 submissions. Most of the 11 tracks will be on general wireless and networking topics, but many of them will focus on subtopics such as V2V and V2x links, communication in parking garages, intravehicle monitoring systems, and unmanned vehicles. One track will be devoted to satellite networks, positioning technologies, and localization; another will largely cover nonwireless transportation technologies such as hybrid power systems, blind-spot monitoring, and oncoming train detection.

“The conference’s focus changes each time,” says Wyglinski, “based on what’s considered cutting-edge research. For instance, I’m excited that we will have entire tracks devoted to cognitive radio [which maximizes spectrum efficiency by detecting and using unused frequencies] and spectrum sensing, to cooperative communications, and to distributed MIMO [multiple-input, multiple-output] antennas and wireless network security. These are all areas of ongoing and emerging research. Relatively mature topics tend to phase out of the conferences because they tend to provide fewer novel outcomes.”

Adds Miller, “We’re getting more papers on energy- and spectrum-efficient ‘green’ radio, vehicle communications standards, frequency hopping, and spread-spectrum radio.”


Six tutorials and two workshops are also scheduled. The tutorials will cover leading-edge issues in networking, intelligent transportation, and hybrid-vehicle energy control and management.

“They’re aimed at a large audience, covering best practices, lessons learned, or new things that have come out,” says Miller. One workshop will cover cloud technologies and energy efficiency in mobile networks; the other will cover wideband mobile cognitive radio. The workshops are also open to participants who don’t register for the entire conference.

But for Wyglinski, there’s more to the conference than great papers. “Since my first VTC, in 2000,” he says, “I’ve been attending because of the folks I meet there.”

Vehicular communications is full of engineering opportunities, notes Miller, an associate professor of computer science and engineering at the University of Alaska, Anchorage. “It’s a relatively young field,” he says, “so there’s lots of work still to be done.”

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