The past decade really has been a game changer for the automotive industry. It all started with electric vehicles being commercialized and sold to the masses. As gas prices continue to rise and environmental concerns rise in popularity, major car manufacturers started looking at electric motors. Now, smart city technology has opened up another of possibility.
This post will help you speak the language of connected cars. Here are some of the top technologies in both autonomous driving and smart infrastructure that are paving the way to the future:
1. Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V)
The first step toward a smart city is autonomous vehicles. Current automation systems found on today’s vehicles rely mostly on sensors. Ultrasonic, radar and camera technologies allow vehicles to see and analyze its surroundings and make safe decisions while driving. However, sensors have limited range and run into the same problems as humans do (although they react much quicker) when it comes to hidden objects, roads, and generally unexpected behaviour from other vehicles.
Two V2V technologies in particular are expected to have a big impact on road safety: intersection movement assist (IMA) and left turn assist (LTA).1
This is where vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication comes in. Vehicles equipped with this technology can communicate with each other in real time and relay information. V2V allows vehicles to essentially see further and enhance the level of predictability. Imagine a vehicle in front of you communicating with your vehicle about the intent of a lane change before it even makes a change, or relaying information about a flat tire right when it happens to all nearby vehicles.
See Also: The Next Wave in Driving Safety: Crash Avoidance Technology
2. Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X)
Qualcomm is exploring and creating innovative technologies to connect vehicles to its surroundings. V2X stands for vehicle-to-everything communication. The idea behind this technology is that a vehicle with built-in electronics will be able to communicate in real-time with its surroundings including V2V, vehicle-to-pedestrian (V2P), vehicle-to-roadway infrastructure (V2I), and vehicle-to-network (V2N) technologies.
Ready for another acronym? Ford and Qualcomm have announced a partnership to develop cellular vehicle-to-everything (C2VX) that will help form the essential backbone to smart cities.
Imagine rolling up to an intersection and your vehicle automatically knows the state of the signals as well as the location of every vehicle, pedestrian and potential hazard in its surroundings. V2V communication can even be extended to the road as it will complement vehicle sensors and allow them to see even further by communicating vehicle direction and intent of lane changes to other vehicles.
3. Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I)
Here are two significant vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) technologies:
Smart cities aren’t just about autonomous signals. It’s also about smart infrastructure that adapts to road conditions and allows for the most efficient throughput of traffic. Smart signals will play a key role in the process of creating smart infrastructure.
What is a smart signal? Traditional signals are either FST (Fixed Signal Timings), which are programmed to change by time of day (ie. rush hour) or they are IPD (In-pavement Detection) which can modify the signal timing slightly based on demand.
Smart signals do two things. First, they use cameras and/or sensors to detect if a car is waiting and also how many cars are waiting on each lane. Using this information, it can calculate the amount of time it will take to clear up each side. Second, smart signals can communicate with other nearby smart signals and can even be connected to the grid as a network of signals that can work in tandem and maximize traffic efficiency.
Smart parking is another example of a vehicle-to-infrastructure technology and goes hand in hand with autonomous driving. Imagine letting your car park on its own and getting picked up when you’re done. Essentially, smart parking removes any human intervention with parking from start to finish.
Connected parking spaces allow communication from the parking lot to your vehicle, letting the vehicle know which spaces are available, the cost, and figuring out how long your car has been parked in order to charge the appropriate amount. Learn why the trucking industry is turning to technology to solve the parking shortage.
4. Vehicle-to-Network (V2N)
Vehicle-to-network (V2N) systems connect vehicles to the cellular infrastructure and the cloud so drivers can take advantage of in-vehicle services like traffic updates and media streaming.
5. HD Mapping
Self-driving cars today use sensors to make calculations in real time. Imagine if your vehicle already knew the elevation of the road or the distance to the curb. HD mapping looks to do that and more. 3D spatial mapping data contains curvature, elevation, and width of lane, as well as the dimensions of any anomalies or obstacles on the road.
Autonomous vehicles can use this data to make calculated turns, calculate speed prior to elevation changes to maximize engine efficiency and minimize fuel consumption. On the other hand, municipalities can use this data to deploy fire trucks or even autonomous drones. For more on advanced mapping, read: How Crowdsourcing Tools Are Building More Powerful Maps
Conclusion: Smart Data Breeds Smart Communication
Vehicles today are more connected than ever before. With the rise of telematics, even older vehicles can be connected. With Apple Car and Android Auto, we are connecting vehicles to the already advanced world of smartphones like never before. Connecting vehicles with smart cities is next.
With a connected vehicle comes a massive data set and what better way to use machine learning than to use this data set to create the vehicle of the future. Tesla vehicles, like the Model 3, are fitted with multiple sensors and eight cameras that cover 360 degrees of the car. Using the sensor data, a Tesla is able to maintain speed behind a vehicle, stay within a lane, and safely merge and change lanes. So what is the next step forward?
All the sensor data ultimately hits a brick wall when trying to analyze and digitize our analog roads with all their anomalies. Today’s roads are littered with confusing road signs, double marked lines, potholes, construction blocking off lanes and intersections, and police officers manually directing traffic.
With the rise of traffic jams, municipalities are looking at smart cities as an effective approach to tackling this problem. Therefore, the next hurdle will be to revision and upgrade our roads and city traffic infrastructure.
Next in the Series: How Autonomous Driving Will Change Our Highways and Cities
- N. Ismail. (2017, Apr. 13). What you need to know about vehicle-to-vehicle communication. Information Age. [Online] Available: http://www.information-age.com/need-know-vehicle-vehicle-communication-123465752/