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Vehicle To Vehicle Communications: It's A Whole New Language

Sep 11, 2008
Inclement weather has created hazardous road conditions. After your car maneuvers around a bend in the road, you encounter a collision. Your vehicle assesses the critical situation and transmits the relevant information to nearby automobiles. Traffic further away also receives warning and is given ample time to respond to the situation. In cases of traffic congestion, drivers receive rerouting directions around the obstruction.

This kind of "car talk" is a developing language in the world of vehicle-to-vehicle communications (V2V). New vehicles will soon be equipped with the ability to detect, assess and communicate potentially dangerous traffic situations to drivers. While aspects of passive safety may still need to be improved upon, many vehicle manufacturers have turned their efforts to real-time active safety features. A goal for the automotive engineer is to produce vehicles that take on the role of sender, receiver or router.

Until recently, active safety features have been mostly relegated to luxury vehicles with expensive radar and/or laser sensors. To help protect passengers before potential collisions, Volvo, for instance, offers a number of active safety features. The Volvo S80 comes available with collision detection and mitigation systems, which alert the driver of an imminent collision and if inescapable, pre-charges the brakes for fast activation to mitigate the crash.

Currently, the development of an open wireless protocol, such as Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC), is allowing manufacturers to develop V2V systems for more moderately priced vehicles. Similar to Wi-Fi, prototype systems transmit vehicle speed, GPS locations and braking information. The idea is that other vehicles in the vicinity equipped with V2V capabilities will also be able to receive and process those signals. Once fully integrated, vehicles may provide drivers with blind-spot warnings, alert drivers to vehicles approaching at high speeds and automatically perform emergency braking.

Other warning systems employ V2V communications to alert the driver to take defensive action in situations where an on-coming vehicle is not yet visible but poses a potential threat. For example, as the vehicle approaches an intersection or attempts a right turn, the system may warn the driver of a potential collision with an on-coming vehicle as it accelerates after a stop, even when the driver fails to notice.

One challenge is that only as manufacturers increase the number of vehicles on the market equipped with V2V systems will the technology reach better efficiency. In the meantime, however, the technology is also being considered by government agencies for communications between vehicles and roadway infrastructures, such as stoplights and traffic-monitoring systems.

According to the Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA) that coordinates the U.S. Department of Transportation's (DOT) research programs, 21,000 of 43,000 deaths that occur annually on U.S. highways result from vehicles leaving the road or traveling unsafely through intersections. Wireless communication, supported by DSRC, is a technology also being developed by these entities to help save lives and prevent injuries on roadways.

Data transmitted from the roadside to a vehicle (known as vehicle to interface communication V2I) could warn the driver that it is not safe to enter an intersection. Meanwhile, vehicles would serve as data collectors - anonymously transmitting traffic and road condition information from every major road within the transportation network. This information would provide transportation agencies with the information needed to implement strategies to relieve traffic congestion.
Given that there are so many safety applications, both vehicle manufacturers and government agencies will continue to explore the development of this technology. With the aid of V2V and V2I communications, road safety will be enhanced.

And it's surely a language consumers will be eager to embrace.
About the Author
Mike Trudel, Freelance Writer.Delphi Corp. is poised to apply its expertise and know-how to provide vehicle manufacturers and consumers with in-vehicle entertainment and connectivity. Visit www.Delphi.com, www.Delphi.com/4Innovation, or www.Delphi.com/4Connected.
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