On Friday afternoons the traffic on the A9 freeway near Munich is congested and navigating it safely requires complete concentration. Other vehicles constantly cut in front of your car, forcing abrupt braking. This is the cause of many accidents, slow-moving traffic, and stress.
However, intelligent mobile technology will soon be able to alleviate some of these problems and help prevent potentially dangerous driving situations.
Vodafone Germany, Bosch and Huawei have integrated connected car technology and driver assistance systems.
Vodafone has been testing cellular vehicle to everything (C-V2X) for the past year. C-V2X is a mobile technology that enables vehicles to talk to each other and to roadside infrastructure over greater distances. The technology advances upon some of the existing safety features in cars such as automatic braking, lane-tracking and blind spot warnings, which depend on sensors within the vehicle which have a limited range.
Now, for the first time in Europe, Vodafone Germany has worked with Huawei and Bosch to integrate C-V2X with adaptive cruise control (ACC), a driver assistance system. When integrated with ACC, C-V2X not only warns the driver about something happening on the road, but also automatically accelerates or brakes in response.
These trials pave the way for automated driving. Achieving fully connected traffic will involve teaching vehicles to communicate with each other and exchange data directly so that they can anticipate what is happening in parts of an intersection not visible to the driver, over the crest of a hill, or on the freeway beside or behind the driver’s own car.
ACC currently works to maintain the speed specified by the driver and − thanks to a radar sensor − the pre-set distance to the vehicle in front as well. ACC detects a vehicle that suddenly cuts in front as soon as it enters the radar sensor’s detection range. By using C-V2X, it is possible to extend that detection range by using the mobile network to connect to all vehicles within a radius of more than 300 meters.
As a result, when using C-V2X, the ACC will know what is about to happen − even before it registers with the driver or the radar sensor. The car can then automatically adjust its speed earlier than it would have before, so that the vehicle cutting in can do so smoothly. Once enough distance to the car in front has been re-established, ACC would automatically accelerate to the pre-set speed. Even in congested traffic, this function will make driving more relaxed and stress-free, while also preventing abrupt braking and acceleration on the freeway. In addition, the technology will increase energy efficiency and reduce emissions. Overall, traffic will become smoother and more efficient.
Thanks to the foresight provided by C-V2X and ACC, in future vehicles will go with the flow, even in rush hour.
Guido Weissbrich is responsible for managing the introduction of new mobile and fixed technology into Vodafone's German network. He joined Vodafone in 1998 and has worked in a number of technology roles.
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