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Linking our vehicles to an 'informational' superhighway
March 29, 2010
by Mark Ollig

An intelligent network may be connecting to a highway and vehicle near you soon.

Cooperative Vehicle-Infrastructure Systems (CVIS) is a major European research and development project.

CVIS distributes real-time intelligence regarding road conditions, unsuspecting road hazards and accident avoidance instructions directly to vehicles as they travel down the highway.

The goal of CVIS is to design, develop and test the technologies required to allow vehicles to not only collect and communicate information with each other, but with the nearby networked roadside structures, and then back to an intelligent central traffic management system.

This scenario was discussed some years ago, but at that time, we just didn’t have the right kind of technology in place to realistically implement it.

CVIS gathers information from all nearby inter-networked vehicles and stationary sensor devices networked along the driver’s route.

CVIS is an intelligent management system which offers drivers enhanced informational awareness relating to other vehicles, advanced notices of road hazards, pedestrian locations, current road conditions, and more.

Specific information is analyzed and then delivered to the driver of the appropriate vehicle.

The CVIS allows all properly equipped vehicles and infrastructure elements to communicate with each other in a continuous and transparent way.

Delivery methods of these services to a vehicle can consist of current wireless broadband and other wireless technologies, including satellite, cellular 2G, 3G, and 4G, along with WiMAX, LTE, and newly- allocated wireless spectrums as they become available.

CVIS uses open source software, meaning the source code of the software program can be improved upon or “tweaked” by the user of it.

The networked connection to our vehicle’s “intelligent electronics interface” must be seamlessly maintained to ensure the information chain is not broken as we drive down the road.

Imagine the benefits of having all vehicles and city traffic management infrastructures cooperating by continuously sending and receiving information with each other in real-time. This type of system is referred to as Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I).

The intelligent electronics in our vehicle would also collect and share information with other vehicles on the road utilizing Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) systems.

I highly recommend my readers watch the CVIS and Safe-Spot demonstration video which presents the benefits of V2I. This shortened URL takes you there: tinyurl.com/ygzdoyz.

The theatrical-style delivery of this informative and entertaining video was presented live and on stage during the 2009 Intelligent Transport Systems and Services (ITS) World Congress in Stockholm, Sweden.

Three real-life actors are in this video. One represents our driver who finds himself in various situations, and the other two actors represent the intelligent response system called the “cooperative system,” which oversees the road conditions ahead. The intelligent response system provides assistance and audible suggestions to our driver.

In one scenario, the driver of a car is being informed of changing road conditions. For example; after two warning tones are heard, the system audibly states to the driver “Caution! Slippery road ahead.”

Another demonstration shows a jogging pedestrian crossing the road ahead and to the left of our driver. However, a large metro bus is parked and is blocking our driver’s vision to the left. Our driver cannot see the pedestrian as he jogs across the road. Suddenly, we hear two quick beeps and the cooperative system says “Brake! Crossing pedestrian from the left!” The driver responds and makes a quick stop – just in time – as the pedestrian runs in front of his vehicle and to the other side of the road.

How did the cooperative system know to alert the driver?

The pedestrian activated a sensor operating inside the bus, which was triggered as he approached the bus. This information, along with the information of our driver’s position and road conditions were sent to the cooperative system. The cooperative system instantly calculated everyones positions and road situation and decided to send an alert warning message to the driver of the vehicle along side the bus since the risk of collision was extremely high.

The cooperative system would also send information about our driver’s reaction to the vehicles behind it, and if the cooperative system concludes there is any risk of collision it will warn those drivers as well.

All the calculations and alerts happened in real-time.

Another situation finds our over-the-road transport vehicle operator heading out and traveling in the right lane to his first pick-up. We notice our vehicle operator traveling behind a large truck. Suddenly, two caution beeps are heard, and an “Obstacle Ahead” visual sign is displayed on our vehicle operator’s front window. A second later, an audible alert warning message tells our operator “Be aware. High risk of collision.” The truck in front of our vehicle operator suddenly swerves to the left lane exposing a slow-moving vehicle in the right lane to our driver, who, having been alerted in time, is able to avoid a collision.

One “Orwellian-like” scene even shows our over-the-road transport vehicle operator being alerted when going over the speed limit.

The cooperative system even suggested time-saving routes.

Real-world situations are also being developed by a company called Safe-Spot, which is working to develop cooperative systems for road safety based on vehicle to vehicle (V2V) and vehicle to infrastructure (V2I) communication. There are six test sites, one of which is located in Torino, Italy.

Safe-Spot’s web site is www.safespot-eu.org.

The CVIS web site is www.cvisproject.org.