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V2X Technology Hits the Road

As mentioned in a previous post, advances in data processing technology and communications infrastructure will soon allow real time interactive communications between vehicles and the world around them. This communication could include vehicle to vehicle (V2V), between vehicles and transportation infrastructure (V2I), between vehicles and the network (V2N) and even between vehicles and people (V2P).

This real time interactive communication is anticipated to increase safety, reduce fuel consumption and improve traffic flow. Safety is increased by allowing cars to in effect “see” around obstacles (buildings, other cars, etc.) to avoid collisions and anticipate the need to merge, etc.; by allowing vehicles to tell other vehicles of their intent (lane changes for example); even to “see” pedestrians if they are properly equipped with the right tech. Fuel consumption and congestion can be improved by using these same abilities between cars and by communicating with traffic signals and other roadside sensors. A demonstration that occurred in Europe on July 13, 2018 included the use of something called SPaT (Signal phase and timing) to communicate the timing of traffic lights to vehicles.

There are at least two competing sets of technology currently in play. C-V2X is a technology based on the same technology used by your cell phone. The competing tech, known as IEEE 802.11p/DSRC is Wifi based. There are some differing characteristics to the systems, but both rely on nearly instantaneous communications between cars and infrastructure to achieve their results.

Panasonic, Ford and Qualcomm recently announced the first real-world test of a C-V2X system in Denver Colorado. The system will collect data from vehicles and communicate that information to other cars and “external” systems. The stated goals of the system include “to reduce travel times by almost half, and potentially eliminate up to 80% of crashes”.

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