Cars converse in largest-ever on-road ITS test project

  • 13-Sep-2012 04:20 EDT
NHTSA image of V2V.jpg

The status of upcoming traffic signals will be communicated to drivers. (U.S. DOT)

The recent launch of a major real-life demonstration of vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) technologies in Ann Arbor, MI, ensures that it will be a topic of discussion at the upcoming SAE Convergence 2012 conference and exhibition in Detroit Oct. 16-17.

The U.S. government, via several of its transportation-related agencies, is sponsoring the demo, which it claims is the largest-ever road test of connected-vehicle crash-avoidance technologies. Roughly 3000 cars, trucks, and transit buses are involved in the one-year project. Most of the vehicles are supplied by volunteer participants and equipped with vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communication devices that will gather extensive data about system operability and its effectiveness at reducing crashes.

The test area consists of about 75 lane miles (121 km) of public roadway to the north and east of Ann Arbor, including highway.

According to DOT's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) unit, V2V safety technology could help drivers avoid or reduce the severity of four out of five unimpaired vehicle crashes. To accomplish this, the Ann Arbor road-test vehicles will send electronic data messages, receive messages from other equipped vehicles, and translate the data into a warning to the driver during specific hazardous traffic scenarios such as an impending collision at a blind intersection, a vehicle changing lanes in another vehicle's blind spot, and a rear collision with a vehicle stopped ahead.

The devices that will be tested include some systems that are integrated into the vehicle when it is produced, some that are installed in the vehicle as an aftermarket or retrofit unit, and some of a type (called a vehicle awareness device or VAD) that is carried into the vehicle and has the capacity only to send speed, location, and heading data; the latter cannot receive or process incoming messages. According to Delphi, which is supporting two companies that won project contract awards, the vast majority of the participating vehicles will run with a basic VAD.

All systems and devices emit a basic safety message 10 times per second that forms the data stream that other in-vehicle devices use to determine when a potential traffic hazard exists. Combined with the vehicle’s own data, this information provides highly accurate data that is used by the crash-avoidance safety applications in those vehicles equipped with integrated or installed systems.

The road test will produce empirical data for determining the technologies’ effectiveness at reducing crashes. These capabilities will also be extended to a limited set of applications in which vehicles will communicate with roadway infrastructure.

The information collected from the demo will be used by NHTSA to determine whether to proceed with additional V2V communication activities, including possible future regulations.

A large number of companies and institutions are involved in the project. The University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute is running the project for the U.S. DOT, and the latter is funding 80% of the project’s $25 million cost.

General Motors is among the automakers involved in the project. It will run eight Buick and Cadillac models into which the highest level of V2V equipment has been integrated. The data will be used not only by the U.S. DOT for consideration in future possible rulemaking but also by participants for their own internal research and development purposes.

“This program will help GM determine a timeline for introducing V2V technology on our vehicles, globally, in the second half of this decade,” said Hariharan Krishnan, GM R&D Technical Fellow for Perception and Vehicle Control Systems. “It will take approximately another five years of market penetration for customers to truly benefit from the technology. Ultimately, V2V and V2I technologies stand to improve traffic safety and efficiency for many drivers.”

Meanwhile, said GM’s Nady Boules, GM Global R&D director of the Electrical and Control Systems Research Lab, “It is essential that common standards and security framework be established for V2V and V2I technologies so that vehicles from different automakers can communicate and interoperate with each other in a consistent manner.”

SAE International's J2735 is the communications standard and is based on a technology called Dedicated Short Range Communications for Wireless Access in Vehicular Environments (DSRC, for short). The Federal Communications Commission has allocated 75 MHz of spectrum in the 5.9-GHz band for use in intelligent transportations systems.

J2735 currently is under review for possible revision, and several related standards are in development.

Delphi is working with project contract award winners Cohda Wireless and Savari.

The former is one of several companies providing DSRC development hardware as well as applications software for vehicles equipped with aftermarket devices. Delphi provided application software for Curve Speed Warning and Cooperative Intersection Collision Avoidance System – Violation (CICAS-V) for Cohda’s platform. Cohda provided software for Forward Collision Warning and Electronic Emergency Brake Light. Delphi also provided the user interface and decision hierarchy as well as integration hardware and on-site vehicle integration support for their aftermarket safety devices.

Savari is one of several awardees for the VAD units that transmit location, speed, and direction data. Delphi received a subcontract for on-site integration support for their prototype vehicles.

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