The connected car
Pilot projects in the US are putting Car2X & C-V2X to the test.
Smart cars that communicate with the world around them may sound like the stuff of science fiction, but Audi is already making it a reality with Car2X and C-V2X technology.
9 August, 2021
This technology allows the vehicle to connect to the broader traffic grid and communicate with other road users
Taking vehicle safety to the next level is not just a matter of building in more driver assistance and safety systems, but developing technology that allows the car to be in touch with its surrounds. To that end, Audi’s engineers have long been working on Car2X- and the C-V2X technology which essentially allows the vehicle to connect to the broader traffic grid and communicate with other road users.
Car2X technology works using mobile communications technology over cellular networks which is permanently installed in the vehicle. Using these channels, the car sends and receives information from other vehicles and from the road infrastructure – for example, from traffic light control centres. This Car2X communication takes place in near-real time, with the car identifying itself within the network with its own unique token and the data flowing anonymously into the communication network to be stored there for only a short period of time.
C-V2X technology on the other hand, is a special kind of Car2X communication. This technology is still relatively new and is based on taking advantage of the 4G/5G mobile communications standards. The abbreviation stands for Cellular-Vehicle-to-X. The ‘X’ is a placeholder – it can stand for various road users, traffic features, or other vehicles and can include traffic lights, pedestrian crossings, road signs, school buses, constructions workers and more. C-V2X transmits data directly to and from the vehicle without traveling over the cellular or mobile network.
The display in the cockpit tells drivers when they need to adapt their driving style to a new situation, say debris on the road or a construction site hidden up ahead behind a bend. This enables drivers to recognise dangerous situations earlier and to react appropriately.
“Car2X has the potential to further reduce the number of serious accidents and traffic fatalities,” says Andre Seeck, Head of the Vehicle Technology Department at the Federal Highway Research Institute. The ADAC is even calling for this technology to soon be standard in all vehicles in Germany.
On the other side of the world in the US, trials are underway to see how this technology can be best employed to make the roads safer.
Each year, more than 100 schoolchildren are killed in traffic accidents in the United States and some 25,000 are injured. Audi wants to improve the safety of the most vulnerable street users and so is testing communication between its own vehicles and school buses in Alpharetta, Georgia, as well as with the warning signs that are commonly found in front of schools in the US. Using C-V2X, the signs become beacons that provide alerts to approaching drivers when they are about to enter school zones during school hours and warn them if they are above the speed limit. School buses will also warn approaching vehicles when students are boarding or exiting the bus. In either case, drivers have enough time to slow down or come to a stop.
Each year, more than 100 schoolchildren are killed in traffic accidents in the United States and 25,000 injured
The goal is that these safety improvements should come with no additional service costs for our customers
In Virginia, Audi is working with the Virginia Department of Transportation and the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute to equip hi-visibility safety vests with C-V2X technology. The technology installed in the vests sends warning signals to drivers approaching the construction site and also informs the construction workers about oncoming vehicles – effectively making traffic twice as safe.
In addition to the obviously safety implications, the Virginia trial is also looking at how private investors can get involved when it comes to implementing the new technology, says Anupam Malhotra, Head of Connected Services at Audi of America.
For these trials to have the potential to be implemented globally the right infrastructure has to be in place, and so local investment is an essential part of the equation says Malhotra.
“The goal is that these safety improvements should come with no additional service costs for our customers.”
And the interest in this technology is growing for business and vehicle users alike. “We are regularly approached by Audi drivers who want to know when their city will finally implement Audi’s Car2X based Traffic Light Information service,” says Malhotra.
This is hardly surprising given that the traffic light Information services not only improve driving behaviour at street intersections but lower driver stress levels at the same time. Normally, amber traffic lights, for example, create a dilemma for drivers – should they drive through or brake? With the traffic light information and the countdown to the red light, it is much easier for them to make the right decision.
Car2X communication will continue to gain importance and Anupam Malhotra believes that any number of scenarios will become a reality in the near future. Be that E-bikes where the technology is built into the frame to warn cyclists of approaching cars or even pedestrians using C-V2X communication via their smartphones – both will be possible as the technology becomes physically smaller.
Or down the track, vehicle manufacturers could integrate a mechanism in the car that intervenes if the driver does not react.
For the future, the possibilities for Car2X are practically unlimited. From making traffic flow more smoothly, to the aforementioned safety implications to improving parking in major cities and the flow on effect for air quality and the environment in general. It also sets the groundwork for autonomous driving in the future, where vehicles will need to be in close contact with fixed infrastructure and other road users alike.
It also sets the groundwork for autonomous driving in the future, where vehicles will need to be in close contact with fixed infrastructure and other road users alike
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