Sep 3, 2007 by Andrew Hull
Car manufacturers around the world are working on a new technology known as vehicle-to-vehicle with a view to making cars a whole lot safer.
Imagine you’re driving along in your car and start to daydream. You approach a T-junction travelling at a high rate of knots and another car is approaching the junction from a different direction. Seconds before a serious collision an alarm goes off in your car and a display flashes telling you to stop. You’re awakened from your reverie and slam on the brakes.
Professor Horst Wieker, from the department of telecommunications at the University of Applied Sciences, Saarbruck, explained, "This technology allows us to build a short range and long range picture of road traffic conditions. You are aware of unseen danger around the corner and even many kilometres before you even encounter a hazardous situation”.
Bruno Praunsmandel, the engineering group manager at GM Europe, added, "We are developing industry standards, ensuring that BMW, VW and Audi and GM can all talk to each other. This has to be a system that will work across all models and all makes”.
The Car-2-Car Consortium's system which includes GM's Vehicle-to-Vehicle project combines three technologies …
A Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) antenna.
A wireless data system.
A computer that interprets the information it receives.
A GPS tracks the position of the car whilst sensor data from the car such as its speed, its direction, the road conditions, if the windscreen wipers are on or off and if the brakes have been applied are all monitored by the on-board computer.
A wireless system which is very similar to existing wi-fi technology will transmit and receives data to and from all nearby cars and create something very similar to a computer network.
Prof Wieker said that the wireless system has a range of 500m outside the city and 100m in the city and added that the consortium had opted for wireless rather than a mobile network because it was faster.
It Should Help Alleviate Traffic Jams Too
If just one driver switches on his fog lamp and slows down then the computer might interpret it as an abnormality but if three or four cars then do the same then computer will ‘understand’ that there is a new set of conditions and will pass the information on to other cars up to several miles away.
The system, if and when it’s installed in road signs and traffic lights will also improve traffic flow by ensuring that real time traffic information is passed on to other cars thereby diverting them to alternative routes.
The next phase will be a live trial in Frankfurt with 500 to 1,000 cars equipped with the technology.
The project still has some compatibility hurdles to overcome which are being caused by other companies that are working on similar systems in North America and Japan.
Very recently however the consortium agreed on a frequency for the wireless system which successfully avoids interfering with emergency vehicle radio bands, military uses, etc.
Companies have not yet committed to a delivery date but maintain that the system will be relatively inexpensive because it is based on existing off the shelf technologies.