Enabling vehicles to communicate with each other and with the traffic environment opens up fantastic possibilities. Vital information can be shared and exchanged - creating a safer and more comfortable drive.
This is why Volvo Car Corporation joined the CAR 2 CAR Communication Consortium together with other European automakers and suppliers. The aim is to have a common platform for CAR 2 CAR communication ready within five years.
"In the future we will have advanced exchange of vital information between vehicles such as their position, speed and direction," says Erik Israelsson, Project Leader Cooperative ITS (Intelligent Transport Systems) at Volvo Car Corporation.
Volvo Car Corporation recently signed a memorandum of understanding with the members of the CAR 2 CAR Communication Consortium regarding the implementation of standardized technology for communication between cars from 2016 and onwards.
The aim is for inter-car communication to function between all cars, irrespective of make. Communication takes place via a wireless network (similar to WLAN) and utilizes existing systems such as the GPS navigation system. CAR 2 CAR has been granted a separate frequency so that cars within a given radius are automatically linked together and can exchange information about parameters such as their position, speed and direction. The installation of transmitters in the road infrastructure, such as road signs and traffic lights, further extends the communication network.
"There is considerable potential in this area as well as opportunities for many benefits in many spheres over and above road safety, such as a more uniform flow of traffic and additional comfort for road users," relates Erik Israelsson.
A few examples of application areas for the new technology:
Green Light Optimum Speed Advisory
Via a transmitter in the traffic light, information is provided regarding the optimum speed for a car to maintain in order to pass through a succession of green lights, thus avoiding unnecessary braking for red. At red lights, the driver can also receive information about how long it will be before the light turns green.
Emergency Vehicle Warning
Alerts the driver to the presence of nearby emergency vehicles, allowing him or her to create free passage well in advance and without being taken by surprise. This can be of benefit in the evening and at night in urban areas where emergency vehicles use their sirens more sparingly out of consideration for nearby residents, and also if loud music is playing in the car.
Road Works Warning
Alerts the driver to road works. Construction vehicles and heavy equipment can transmit information to vehicles well in advance of the site. Drivers can thus receive information about changed speed limits and altered routes near the work-site. The system can also keep the driver informed about the remaining distance before the end of the long road-work zone.
Slow Vehicle Warning
Slow or broken-down vehicles in the roadway transmit a warning to other road users. Receiving information well in advance can cut the risk of unpleasant surprises in traffic and thus reduce accidents.
Traffic Jam Ahead Warning
Alerts the driver to traffic stops or tailbacks. Since vehicles to the rear are alerted that there is a stop further ahead, there is less of a risk of accidents.
Issues a warning about local bad weather such as heavy rain, snowfall or icy roads.
CAR 2 CAR provides information about regular or temporary speed limits. This information is provided by communication units along the road that can pass on information about parameters such as road signs and their location on the route.
Emergency Electronic Brake Light
Vehicles that break down on the road create dangerous situations both for drivers and passengers in the stricken vehicle, as well as for other road users. CAR 2 CAR warns if a vehicle suddenly slows down.
Motorcycle Approaching Indication
Motorcyclists are among the most vulnerable road users and in order to improve safety CAR 2 CAR informs other road users if there is a motorcycle nearby.
Red Light Violation Warning
Traffic lights that communicate with cars make it possible to alert a driver who has not noticed a red light, for instance by activating a prominent sound and light signal in the car. This technology also makes it possible to warn a driver going through a green light if another vehicle is about to cross his/her path by mistake.
"When the system is fitted into future cars it will be of considerable benefit to drivers and next-generation infrastructure, and will help improve traffic safety," says Erik Israelsson.
The CAR 2 CAR Communication Consortium is an organisation started jointly by a number of European car makers supported by suppliers, research institutes and other partners.