Safer Roads Through Vehicle-to-Vehicle Communication

Safer Roads Through Vehicle-to-Vehicle

Colorado is moving forward to determine the feasibility and benefits of using a new technology called vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication. The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) is continuing their RoadX program and has an exciting pilot program upcoming in conjunction with a company known as HERE. HERE specializes in mapping technology and real-time data analytics to evaluate vehicle-to-vehicle communications. The venue for the pilot will be I-70, which extends across the state and passes through dangerous mountain regions that receive significant snowfall. The channel for communication will be the existing LTE mobile device networks for transmitting critical information such as alerts of accidents or weather-related hazards. The LTE networks are unlikely to be the ultimate solution beyond the pilot phase. However, it allows for use of an existing network with little cost.

Vehicle-to-Vehicle Basics

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has expressed their commitment to overall improvements in safety and mobility in the U.S. V2V technology has the potential to be transformational in how we travel. The goal is to have vital data communicated between passenger cars, commercial vehicles, rail transport, and buses to reduce car accidents, decongest roads, and protect lives. V2V technology allows for a wireless data flow that can prevent accidents by transmitting the speed and location of a vehicle to surrounding vehicles. NHTSA recognizes that all this new data will only deliver results if the vehicles upon our roadways actually have the capability of communicating. Therefore, NHTSA is working with auto manufacturers and higher education institutions to gain input and begin progress.

Potential V2V Communication Requirement

The NHTSA is in the process of issuing Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard Number #150. It calls for all light vehicles to have V2V communication capability allowing them to receive and transmit safety messages via short-range radio. Some of this data would include the vehicle’s speed of travel, location, and braking status. With real-time data, the system should allow for alerts that warn of impending collisions.

Sensor-Based Technology

This technology has the potential of exceeding in-vehicle camera technology by usage of 360-degree radio signals. Cameras cannot see through obstacles radio signals that can detect objects around corners and through other vehicles. Someday sensors may predict the path of vehicles or actions such as braking and steering. The detection range between vehicles is approximately 300 meters (328 yards), almost twice the distance of traditional systems.

Interoperability & Buyer Adoption

The capacity for transmission, interpretation, and receipt of universal (standardized) V2V data is known as interoperability. If interoperability does not exist then it is likely that V2V communications will lack uniformity across all makes of vehicles and detract from the core purpose of the Number 150 requirement. The motivation for consumers to purchase V2V equipped vehicles may be dependent on the ability of the technology to truly heighten occupant safety. The requirement that all manufacturers employ a standard technology is critical.

Another possible concern is that vehicle life spans have increased. Even with the implementation of the manufacturer requirement, a roughly ten-year period will exist until grandfathered vehicles are out-of-service and replaced. The average vehicle operating in the U.S. is 11.6 years old. This is a clear problem for those seeking rapid, widespread adoption of V2V technology. The potential for development of an aftermarket system that can be inexpensively obtained is a possibility. However, this requires that the systems not only be compatible with new vehicles but also with models that could be a decade or more old.

The pilot project along I-70 must demonstrate some clear results in increasing safety to gain public acceptance. In addition, quantifiable safety benefits provide justification for the manufacturer requirement and thus widespread adoption. Without the requirement, the technology may simply exist but never achieve the tremendous impact that proponents think it can. In the next segment, we transition from V2V communication to Vehicle-to-Infrastructure communication, another key part of the overall goal of increasing roadway safety through technology.

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