Denso, a major player in a number of markets from home to automotive, displayed at the 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit an electronically activated diorama of a city and its traffic. The company also offered show attendees the chance to "ride" in a simulator that demonstrates the safety features of a V2X (vehicle to vehicle and infrastructure) environment.
DSRC and V2X module
To minimize the wrong turns in engineering development, Denso naturally is focusing on those areas in which it has long been a player, explained Pat Bassett, Vice President of R&D for Denso International America. One obviously is V2X using DSRC (dedicated short range communications), the section of the 5.9-GHz band that the U.S. Department of Transportation has set aside for road safety and traffic management.
In addition to the public infrastructure, a "Smart City" and the automotive safety advances anticipated by DOT take an in-car communications module, and Bassett noted that at least one make, Cadillac, has said it expects to begin installations next year. Even if other makes start at the same time, it will be many years before intersections are sufficiently populated with V2X module-equipped cars to predict impending hazards and prevent accidents by warning drivers and/or even taking action automatically.
Bassett admitted this is one of the imponderables, and he conceded that car makers, short of a government mandate for new cars and perhaps a retrofit program for non-equipped vehicles, need to be able to provide a tangible benefit to justify the early cost of installing V2X communication. Some cities, such as Los Angeles, have computer-controlled traffic light systems, which could be upgraded to help cars with V2X travel through them with a minimum number of stops.
Denso has been working since 2003 on V2X modules that communicate with compatible traffic signals, and it is participating in traffic control demonstration projects in Europe and Japan, and close to its North American regional headquarters in Southfield, MI, plus others in California, New York, and Florida.
Home energy management
Denso's vision of a Smart City also includes the home, Bassett said, as the company makes hot water heaters (that use carbon dioxide as the working fluid) and a range of home electronic control systems. For those products outside of its purview, Denso has been working with partners.
As a test in Japan, Bassett noted, the company is collaborating with Toyota and a home builder to test a HEMS (Home Energy Management System) project. It ties a home with electronic control of household temperature, hot water, household lighting and appliances, and door locks, to a plug-in car and a smartphone. So with a paired phone, the motorist on the road has the same control over the household interior (and even the charging of a plug-in car on home charge) as he/she would with the control panel on the wall in his/her home.
Because interior climate control and refrigeration are key parts of Denso's product lineup, Bassett observed that the company also is a participant in a Japanese "Cold Chain." This is a supply-chain improvement initiative to provide energy-efficient cold storage and maximum shelf life for agricultural and other food products, medicines, etc. from point of origin through processing to a Smart City market.