How V2X can make our cars smarter and our streets safer
Imagine a world where you never have to sit in traffic, because your car automatically finds the best path to get to your destination. Where your car diagnoses itself when something goes wrong and points you to the nearest qualified service station. Where your car gets better gas mileage because you barely spend any time waiting at red lights. Where cars actively communicate between themselves to prevent collisions before they can happen.
These are some of the promises of V2X and connected car technology.
What is V2X?
With ever increasing computing power and improved wireless technology in vehicles, car manufacturers saw the potential to transform the way we drive, which has become the V2X concept. V2X stands for “Vehicle‑to‑X”, where X can be anything that can help your car get you and your passengers to your destination more quickly and safely. The V2X‑capable car will be able to communicate with other vehicles, as well as with infrastructure such as smart traffic lights, buildings, traffic cameras or even roads, to improve the driving experience.
The information that your car collects from and sends out to the V2X network will be used to improve your driving experience, as well as that of other drivers on the road. V2X technology could also benefit cities, as vehicle movement data could be used to design better roads and traffic infrastructure.
Imagine leaving your house, getting in your car and, as soon as you turn on the ignition, your vehicle connects to your home to check if your doors are locked, lights are turned off and security system is activated.
As you get on the highway, your car communicates your position with nearby cars, which then use the information to adjust their speed and paths, keeping traffic moving at a steady pace and improving everyone's fuel efficiency. When you approach intersections, your car communicates with the upcoming traffic signal to confirm and coordinate the best approach speed or to calculate alternate routes to avoid red lights. You rarely need to stop and wait, thus saving time and fuel.
As you approach a shopping district, you tell your car which store you want to go to and your car automatically communicates with the building to direct you to the closest free parking spot. These are just some example of some of the things a V2X enabled car can do.
But V2X technology isn't just about saving you gas and finding you a sweet parking spot. It's also about making our roads a lot safer. According to the WHO (World Health Organization), every year 1.27 million fatal accidents happen across the world. Many of these deaths could be prevented by vehicle technology that effectively relays safety‑related information to vehicles to help drivers and cars react better to hazardous road conditions.
Vehicle to Vehicle communication could let cars stuck in traffic inform other vehicles around them of the situation so as to prevent pile‑up accidents. Data collected from car‑sensors such as radars, lidars and cameras are shared wirelessly via V2X communication to allow cars to see around a corner to inform them of upcoming hazards around the bend and prevent collisions at intersections.
Vehicle movement speeds, positions and paths can be communicated, so that collisions can be a thing of the past and also to coordinate car movement patterns, eliminating unnecessary traffic jams.
The technology and infrastructure is here
The technology to make V2X happen is already here. Since 1999, government bodies and automobile manufacturers have cooperated to create a wireless standard for this new communications network. Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC), the result of these efforts, is a wireless protocol designed specifically for the needs of automotive communication. It boasts high transfer speeds, low latencies, fast network acquisition, robust security and very high connection reliability.
Supported by Toyota, GM and other major OEMS, DSRC is poised to be the driving communications protocol for V2X. Well‑made transceivers, like u‑blox’s THEO‑P1, can achieve connections up to one kilometre away and are compliant with both the US WAVE and European ETSI ITS G5 standards for DSRC.
Besides wireless communication, accurate positioning information is also a key component of realising the safety benefits of V2X. While GNSS technology alone provides adequate positioning for navigational purposes, advanced GNSS units can provide positioning with accuracy down to a meter or less, allowing for the collision avoidance capability envisioned for next generation V2X.
While it sounds futuristic, V2X technology is already being explored in Europe and America by major governing bodies and basic V2X capabilities are beginning to be incorporated into production vehicles. With the technology promising a much safer and more comfortable driving experience, the automotive industry is at an exciting time in history where the connectivity of the car is becoming just as important as the horsepower and fuel efficiency!
By Costas Meimetis, Director Product Strategy Short Range Radio, u-blox.