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Monday, July 1, 2013

Wireless Vehicle Networks - Internet of Cars Crossroads

In an article from MIT Technology Review, the indication is that “vehicle-to-vehicle communications” could soon be synonymous with technology that makes driving safer, less polluting, and is potentially less antagonistic.

They indicate that Michigan's Transportation Research Institute will be providing demos to showcase how future vehicles can exchange information - including their position, direction, and speed - with other similarly equipped vehicles, as well as roadside equipment such as traffic lights and tollbooths.

One of the largest ever real-world vehicle-to-vehicle experiments involving 2,800 vehicles, many belonging to ordinary drivers who have volunteered to take part, has been under way in Ann Arbor, Michigan, for the past 10 months. Each vehicle in the project, including 60 trucks, 85 transit buses, and some motorcycles and bicycles, is fitted with a transmitter and receiver capable of sending and receiving signals over a distance of about 300 meters. The equipment uses a specialized version of WiFi, called 802.11p or WAVE, which operates in a dedicated radio frequency in the 5.9-gigahertz range and was designed specifically for communications from moving vehicles.

Some participating drivers received dashboard alerts, offering a glimpse of how the technology may eventually work. These participants were shown a warning if, for example, another driver several cars ahead applied the brakes suddenly, or if their on-board computer noticed another car approaching an intersection ahead at a speed that could potentially cause a collision.

The primary thrust of the technology is to improve safety.  European car manufacturers are working on a similar Car2Car system (in English V2V).  Both systems would be used for various functions such as automated speed monitoring, speed limit warnings, or pull over commands from law enforcement.  Some features are similar to those described in an earlier post regarding the Internet of Things - such as being used for toll and parking payments, traffic management (including accommodating police, fire, and ambulance), driver assistance, and support for automated driving systems.

Toward the end of the year, the Department of Transportation (DOT) will decide whether to mandate that future cars include some sort of vehicle-to-vehicle communication technology or to leave it to the market.