Jessica Royer Ocken examines how V2X technology can help improve advanced driver assistance systems.
Vehicle-to-vehicle or vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2X) communication “helps extend a vehicle’s field of vision,” explains Benjamin Oberkersch, press relations officer for Daimler AG and the simTD, the firm’s V2X field test project.
And a vehicle that sees better on its own makes fewer demands of its driver, greatly enhancing safety and efficiency for everyone on the road.
With conventional methods like radar sensors and cameras, advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS)-equipped vehicles can see what’s immediately around them and down the road about 200 meters.
But V2X will provide information on conditions farther afield—such as that traffic jam around a curve 5 km away—while there’s still time to act. V2X “communication supports the existing vehicle sensors and can provide additional information,” Oberkersch says.
But that’s not all. According to Stephen Longden, an ITS and telematics specialist with SBD, a UK-based automotive technology research and consulting firm, cars will eventually be in constant communication with the vehicles around them.
“Once the driver is less involved in driving, you can squeeze more cars on the network,” he says.
V2X communication will allow cars to move at higher speeds with less space between them, which allows for greater fuel efficiency, improved traffic flow, and reduced emissions as vehicles spend more time moving and less time sitting in traffic.
This also enhances safety, which has an environmental impact, too: “As well as the human and economic costs of collisions, they generate huge amounts of pollution,” Longden notes.
V2X is a hot topic all over Europe and is being actively researched by the governments of Germany and France as well as the European Commission, mainly because of the environmental and safety benefits it could offer.
But there’s also a third reason for their support, “which is to promote European technology as an industry,” Longden argues. “It’s a way of gaining market advantage.”
However, he believes we’re still at least five years away from any actual deployment. Nevertheless, a sampling of current European V2X projects provides insight into progress being made as well as the issues and challenges still to be resolved.
The research project Preparing Secure Vehicle-to-X Communication Systems (PRESERVE) was launched in February with the goal of creating a security and privacy protection system for V2X networks. Security is always an issue, especially in Europe.
There’s the personal angle; not every driver wants someone aware of where they’ve been and where they’re going. And there is also the security angle; once the infrastructure is directing vehicles, the network must be secured against a disastrous fault or malicious breach.
Sponsored by the European Commission, the project will be in close communication with other ongoing research projects, including Driving Implementation and Evaluation of C2X Communication Technology in Europe (DRIVE C2X), which launched in January and is a collaboration of more than 40 stakeholders to conduct field tests at seven sites around Europe.
Interoperability will be a challenge, though, because it’s likely that individual countries, rather than the EU, will manage their own V2X networks.
Examining another component of the equation is the Safe and Intelligent Mobility–Test Field Germany (simTD) project, which will conduct active analysis on the streets of Frankfurt/Main throughout 2012.
This project puts previous V2X research into practice to find the best ways to improve road safety and traffic efficiency via hazard and collision warnings as well as real-time traffic information, including data from traffic lights and signs.
One hundred drivers collect data as they complete specific tasks; another 300 passively provide information to the project as they go about their normal driving, explains Christian Ress, technical expert in connectivity for Ford Research & Advanced Engineering Europe.
Because simTD involves stakeholders from carmakers (Daimler, Ford, Audi, Mini, Opel) to suppliers (Bosch, Continental, Deutsche Telekom) to research institutions and government agencies (Hessian State Office for Road and Traffic Affairs and the Car 2 Car Communication Consortium), uniform standards can be established to facilitate a smooth roll-out and streamlined market penetration.
According to Daimler’s Oberkersch, the simTD team has learned from previous projects that the more partners pooling their resources, the more effectively results can be achieved to benefit everyone.
Focused on the practicalities of integrating V2X technology into the traffic on the roads over time, Dynamic Information and Application for Mobility with Adaptive Networks and Telematics Infrastructure (DIAMANT) is a component of “Jam-Free Hesse 2015,” an initiative to reduce or eliminate rush-hour congestion on the German autobahn.
One big unknown: What happens when some cars are V2X-equipped and some aren’t. “We don’t fully understand how equipped cars will impact those that are not,” says SBD’s Longden.
Even partial V2X market penetration could have a positive impact. At the recent European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) congress in Brussels, Opel presented DIAMANT findings indicating that even if only five of 1,000 cars are equipped to exchange data, this can “provide a representative picture of traffic flow.”
Thus far, vehicle manufacturers are the lead influence in determining the technology standards for V2X, and they are “piggybacking on the US,” reports Longden.
Equipped cars will exchange data via WLANs using the IEEE 802.11p standard, but the traffic information could also be shared via a radio service or even messages on traffic-control signs, DIAMANT suggests.
Cellular networks might also be an additional means of delivering traffic updates, says Longden. But because of the volume of data involved, a dedicated network will also be essential. simTD currently uses radio communication in concert with a WLAN.
However it is ultimately delivered, V2X is moving ahead. “The European Commission and car industry operates on a very ambitious time schedule,” says Frank Kargl, associate professor at the Distributed and Embedded Security Group of the University of Twente in the Netherlands and coordinator of PRESERVE.
He reports that the first standards are intended to be ready by 2013 and actual products should be available in the second half of this decade.
Jessica Royer Ocken is a regular contributor to TU.
For more on V2X, see V2X, Safety and Mobilty.
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