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Indian government frees low-frequency bands for automotive ADAS features

Published: September 25, 2015 | New Delhi, India

The government has de-licensed certain very low frequency bands for the automotive industry, a decision that could help in making connected and safer vehicles in a country. Car makers can use this frequency through radar-based system and offer advanced driver assistance (ADAS) features like blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control and lane departure warning. In the absence of low-power frequencies, car makers in India could not test or install these safety features in cars meant for exports.

According to a notification dated September 16, issued by the Wireless Planning and Coordination (WPC) wing of the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology, the government has delicenced use of devices or wireless microphones in the frequency bands of 36-38 MHz, 433-434.79 MHz, 302-351 kHz and 76-77 GHz.

Spectrum_Automotive_ADAS_WPC_India

The move will not only help car manufactures to improve the safety features of their projects in India, but also boost exports from the country to Europe, Japan and the US, where these features are standard. The likes of Ford, Volkswagen, Hyundai and Nissan export 30-50% of the cars they produce in India, including to Europe. This could also mark the first push of Indian automotive industry towards fully autonomous vehicles. 

In fact, some luxury-car makers had to spend money on deactivating those safety features in India. The frequency band was released after continuous dialogues among the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers Association (SIAM), car maker Maruti Suzuki, component manufacture Bosch and the ministry over six to 12 months. The ministry delicenced the band after all its concerns were addressed by the auto makers.

In a letter to DoT dated 24 June, 2014, SIAM had written,
The automotive sector requires a large number of radio frequencies.  Considering the worldwide harmonization of the radio frequencies, the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (S) would like to file the entire range of radio frequencies required for delicensing for automotive applications.

Telecom sector officials feel this is a small issue and the government should not have any problem granting the auto industry access to the airwaves as these airwaves do not collide with the industry as they do not overlap with commercial applications of spectrum. Many premium car makers like Mercedes-Benz, Audi and Volvo currently provide several features like radar-based automatic braking, lane detection system and ‘Magic body control’ suspension, but these technologies are often excluded from the same cars models sold in India.

Maruti, which was pushing for releasing the frequency, should be the biggest beneficiary as it intends to use the bands for the testing and installation of Autonomous Emergency Braking System (AEBS) in its upcoming premium hatchback Baleno, which will be exported to Europe and Japan.

Source: Economic Times, WPC

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