The next generation of automobile will talk. In fact, your car will be very chatty. It will talk to everything it meets along its journey. It may even talk to you!
As autonomous cars evolve, they will need an abundance of information to keep their passengers safe. As a result, they will communicate.
They will talk to themselves. In fact, most cars do already. They will exchange data about the performance and health of the car. Is the right amount of air in the tires? What is the speed? Is the engine too hot? Is the transmission shifting at the optimum RPM? Are the passengers all wearing seat belts and is the tension correct for each passenger? A typical car may have 20 or more CPUs that are constantly communicating with hundreds of sensors.
Your car will talk to your repair and maintenance service providers too. They will report all anomalies and advise the overall health of the vehicle. The car will schedule service visits and collaborate with your personal calendar to ensure your availability if necessary. However, if the car is fully autonomous, then you may not be required to attend and it may just schedule the repair itself, for itself, and go in the middle of the night so it can be ready for your trip to work in the morning.
Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) communications
Vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication enables vehicles to wirelessly exchange information about their speed, location, and heading. The technology behind V2V communication allows vehicles to broadcast and receive omni-directional messages (up to 10 times per second), creating a 360-degree “awareness” of other vehicles in proximity. Vehicles equipped with appropriate software (or safety applications) can use the messages from surrounding vehicles to determine potential crash threats as they develop. The technology can then employ visual, tactile, and audible alerts – or, a combination of these alerts – to warn drivers. These alerts allow drivers the ability to take action to avoid crashes.
These V2V communication messages have a range of more than 300 meters and can detect dangers obscured by traffic, terrain, or weather. V2V communication extends and enhances currently available crash avoidance systems that use radars and cameras to detect collision threats. This new technology does not just help drivers survive a crash – it helps them avoid the crash altogether.
Vehicles that could use V2V communication technology range from cars and trucks to buses and motorcycles. Even bicycles and pedestrians may one day leverage V2V communication technology to enhance their visibility to motorists. Additionally, vehicle information communicated does not identify the driver or vehicle, and technical controls are available to deter vehicle tracking and tampering with the system.
V2V communication technology can increase the performance of vehicle safety systems and help save lives. In the USA alone, there were 6.5 million police-reported crashes in 2017, resulting in 37,133 fatalities and 2.7 million injuries. Connected vehicle technologies will provide drivers with the tools they need to anticipate potential crashes and significantly reduce the number of lives lost each year.
V2X, which stands for ‘vehicle to everything’, is the umbrella term for the car’s communication system, where information from sensors and other sources travels via high-bandwidth, low-latency, high-reliability links, paving the way to fully autonomous driving.
There are several components of V2X, including vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V), vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I), vehicle-to-pedestrian (V2P), and vehicle-to-network (V2N) communications. In this multifaceted ecosystem, cars will talk to other cars, to infrastructure such as traffic lights or parking spaces, to smartphone-toting pedestrians, and to data centres via cellular networks. Different use cases will have different sets of requirements, which the communications system must handle efficiently and cost-effectively.
V2I (Vehicle to Infrastructure), allowing vehicles to communicate with the Infrastructure, is happening now. There are thousands of Road Side Units (RSUs) equipped with V2X chipsets spread across the US, Europe and Asia. Over 20 US states and 16 EU member states have active infrastructure deployment projects. Billions of dollars are planned to be invested in smart infrastructure capable of communicating with vehicles via V2X.
V2I is beneficial for manned and autonomous vehicles. In manned vehicles, the driver can get alerts as to road conditions, weather alerts, roadside construction, upcoming traffic lights state, and more.
Responder-to-Vehicle (R2V) communications
This same type of V2X technology is also being developed for emergency vehicles by Chicago, Illinois startup HAAS Alert. The company refers to it as “Responder-to-Vehicle” (R2V) communications. It provides warnings to nearby vehicles that an ambulance, police, or fire vehicle is approaching. The alerts provide drivers with adequate time to pull over, yield, or avoid the area entirely.
HAAS Alert is working with first responders in the city of Grand Rapids on a pilot program in collaborating with the city’s fire department. The alerts are automatically transmitted whenever an emergency vehicle’s lights or sirens are activated by a transponder installed on the firetruck.
The notifications are delivered through the Waze navigation app to motorists in proximity to the emergency vehicles. Drivers are notified via Waze that an emergency vehicle is approaching, and from what direction, so they can yield if its behind them or approaching a signaled intersection ahead. With enough warning time, drivers can also avoid the area entirely by rerouting.
The HAAS Alert technology is designed so drivers have ample time to yield to the emergency vehicles, allowing first responders to arrive at an incident quicker and safer.
HASS Alert successfully completed its pilot in Grand Rapids and expanded its service to about 100 new cities, the company said.
For example, Mercedes Benz plans to seek cooperation from other vehicle manufacturers to advance V2X and V2V communications. The automaker believes that Car-to-X Communication will be more effective if many more cars are on the network.
The ultimate goal is to enhance safety and traffic flow more efficiently for all road users.
That is the thing about riding in autonomous cars – you are giving up control. That is the bargain. You delegate duties and surrender decision-making to AI. Most of the time, that is fine. I used to sit in traffic and seethe at humanity. And yeah, I still do that. But now I can do it while looking at my phone.
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McLellan, C. (2019). What is V2X communication? Creating connectivity for the autonomous car era. ZDNet, CBS Interactive. Retrieved on June 13, 2020 from, https://www.zdnet.com/article/free-pdf-autonomous-vehicles-in-the-enterprise/
NHTSA. (2020). Vehicle-to-Vehicle Communication. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Retrieved on June 13, 2020 from, https://www.nhtsa.gov/technology-innovation/vehicle-vehicle-communication
Walz, E. (2020). How Mercedes Benz is Keeping Drivers Safe Using ‘Car-to-X’ Communication Technology. Future Car. Retrieved on June 13, 2020 from, https://m.futurecar.com/3948/How-Mercedes-Benz-is-Keeping-Drivers-Safe-Using-Car-to-X-Communication-Technology
Unknown. (2019). Vehicle to Infrastructure Communication (V2I): Smart Infrastructure for Safety and Mobility. AutoTalks Ltd. Retrieved on June 13, 2020 from, https://www.auto-talks.com/v2i-vehicle-to-infrastructure-communication/
About the Author:
Michael Martin has more than 35 years of experience in systems design for applications that use broadband networks, optical fibre, wireless, and digital communications technologies.
He is a business and technology consultant. He offers his services on a contracting basis. Over the past 15 years with IBM, he has worked in the GBS Global Center of Competency for Energy and Utilities and the GTS Global Center of Excellence for Energy and Utilities. He is a founding partner and President of MICAN Communications and before that was President of Comlink Systems Limited and Ensat Broadcast Services, Inc., both divisions of Cygnal Technologies Corporation (CYN: TSX).
Martin currently serves on the Board of Directors for TeraGo Inc (TGO: TSX) and previously served on the Board of Directors for Avante Logixx Inc. (XX: TSX.V).
He has served as a Member, SCC ISO-IEC JTC 1/SC-41 – Internet of Things and related technologies, ISO – International Organization for Standardization, and as a member of the NIST SP 500-325 Fog Computing Conceptual Model, National Institute of Standards and Technology.
He served on the Board of Governors of the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) [now OntarioTech University] and on the Board of Advisers of five different Colleges in Ontario. For 16 years he served on the Board of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE), Toronto Section.
He holds three master’s degrees, in business (MBA), communication (MA), and education (MEd). As well, he has three undergraduate diplomas and five certifications in business, computer programming, internetworking, project management, media, photography, and communication technology. He has earned 15 badges in next generation MOOC continuous education in IoT, Cloud, AI and Cognitive systems, Blockchain, Agile, Big Data, Design Thinking, Security, and more.