GM demonstrating embedded and smartphone implementations of V2X communications at ITS World Congress
|V2X application in a smartphone. Click to enlarge.|
General Motors is demonstrating a set of vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V, or vehicle-to-car V2C) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communications (collectively, V2X) systems this week at the Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) World Congress in Orlando. These systems communicate with devices used by other drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists and roadway infrastructure to provide advance warning about hazards ahead, such as slowed or stalled vehicles, slippery roads, sharp curves or intersections and stop signs. (Earlier post.)
GM has been testing the technology in two mobile platforms: a transponder about the size of a GPS unit and a smartphone application that can be tied to the vehicle’s display unit.
These safety systems could provide a significant leap in automotive safety, but their effectiveness goes up dramatically as more people use them. By putting the technology into portable devices, we could make this potentially life-saving technology widely available and more affordable.—Don Grimm, senior researcher for GM’s Perception and Vehicle Control Systems group
|The V2X transponder. Click to enlarge.|
The portable transponder has its own display screen. For the smartphone application, GM engineers can connect the smartphone to the vehicle’s audio and video display systems to integrate notifications into the automobile.
The embedded system, portable transponder and smartphone technologies all use Dedicated Short-Range Communications, or DSRC, to transfer data between devices and have a communication range of about one-quarter of a mile in all directions. DSRC is a two-way short- to- medium-range wireless communications capability that permits very high data transmission critical in communications-based active safety applications.
The DSRC radio can send and receive messages with other vehicles in the area, as well as communicate with fixed radios connected to traffic signals or construction zones.
|NHTSA and V2X|
|A 2010 NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) analysis concluded that V2V systems potentially could address 79% of all vehicle target crashes, 81% of all light-vehicle target crashes, and 71% of all heavy-truck target crashes annually.|
|The NHTSA assessment (Frequency of Target Crashes for Intelligible Safety Systems) also found that V2I systems potentially address about 26% of all-vehicle target crashes, 27% of all light-vehicle target crashes, and 15% of all heavy-truck target crashes annually.|
|Combined V2V and V2I systems could potentially address about 81% of all-vehicle target crashes, 83% percent of all light-vehicle target crashes, and 72% percent of all heavy-truck target crashes annually, according to the report.|
In the US, DSRC refers generically to communications on a dedicated 5.9 GHz frequency band reserved using the Wireless Access in Vehicular Environments (WAVE) protocols defined in the IEEE 1609 standard and its subsidiary parts. These protocols build on the established IEEE 802.11 standards for Wi-Fi wireless networking.
The US Department of Transportation is preparing NHTSA for a decision in 2013 that will determine whether the agency proceeds with regulatory activities that could require DSRC technology on new vehicles; consumer information programs that help new car buyers understand the effectiveness of this technology; or the need for further research and development.
These systems can provide critical information using basic location data. For example, if the driver at the head of a string of vehicles applies the brakes, those that follow can automatically get an alert. Two vehicles approaching an intersection can warn each other before the drivers can see each other.
When fully connected to the automobile’s computer system, these devices also can relay information already being collected by sensors throughout the automobile. The sensors that activate electronic stability control, for example, could alert drivers in other vehicles about hazardous road conditions ahead.
As an added benefit, the smartphones have the potential to be used by pedestrians and bicyclists, who could download a special application to let drivers know their location. The technology could help prevent vehicle-to-vehicle collisions and also reduce the number of collisions with pedestrians and bicyclists.
The technology we’re testing right now is a viable solution for providing crucial safety information to drivers. Instead of just seeing what’s right in front of them, drivers will be able to know about the truck a quarter-mile ahead that’s stalled in their lane. Later this decade, smartphones, transponders and embedded systems could be working together to make our roadways safer.—Don Grimm
GM is working on embedding these communications systems into new vehicles, but with the average age of US vehicles at 10.2 years, according to Polk, GM researchers also have been focusing on finding ways to retrofit automobiles already on the road.