Daimler, BMW, Ford, Volvo, and partners begin Car-to-X project
In cooperation with Here Technologies, Tom Tom, and the transport authorities in six European countries, Daimler, BMW, Ford, and Volvo are testing how information about acutely hazardous situations can be communicated using Car-to-X technology. The test phase is scheduled to last twelve months, starting in the Netherlands. The pilot project will be run under the umbrella of a public-private partnership called the European Data Task Force.
“The more vehicles we have sharing safety data in real time, the safer our roads become,” said Malin Ekholm, Head of the Volvo Cars Safety Centre. “That is why the European Data Task Force is such an important initiative. We hope to bring on board even more partners who share our commitment to safety.”
Crucial to the project is the ability to transmit information about a sudden hazard, such as slippery conditions or an accident, to following or approaching traffic as quickly as possible. Daimler has used mobile networking technologies as standard to send hazard warnings from vehicle to vehicle (V2V) since 2013. Volvo Cars will contribute to the pilot project by providing real-time data from its connected safety technologies, Hazard Light Alert and Slippery Road Alert.
The transport ministries in Germany, Spain, Finland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Sweden are supporting the project. The aim of the pilot project is to conduct research into the technical, economic, and legal aspects of Car-to-X. Car-to-X is the term the task force is using to describe communication between vehicles and with the transport infrastructure.
The focus of the project is on the "Safety Related Traffic Information" (SRTI) discussion at the EU level. With this initiative, the project partners say they are supporting the EU Commission in its efforts to promote the development of networked and intelligent transport systems. The long-term objective of the EU is to substantially reduce the number of fatalities and severe injuries in road traffic by 2050. According to the task force, an improved flow of information could make a contribution to this.
EU Directive 866/2013 stipulates that a minimum level of general, road-safety-related traffic information is to be made available to all users free of charge wherever possible. The project partners are working on the principle of non-technology-specific testing and further development of information flows using Car-to-X technology. Already installed, mobile radio-based communication systems will be used for the pilot project.
The project partners used examples to demonstrate how information is passed on using Car-to-X communication. Three scenarios were used for this. In each case a "transmitter" simulated a breakdown or other hazardous situation.
In scenario 1, the driver of a Mercedes-Benz vehicle activates the hazard warning system. Scenario 2 consists of the driver of a BMW sending out an emergency call (eCall). In scenario 3, a traffic management center warns of a sudden hazard in the area, such as mobile roadworks.
During the demonstration, the two transmitter vehicles were positioned along a route from the city center to the Evolution Congress Centre in Eindhoven. The receiver vehicles—test vehicles by Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Ford—drove along this route to simulate following or oncoming traffic in a critical traffic situation. Immediately after the first impulse by the transmitters, the occupants of the receiver vehicles received a message via their onboard systems.
The data were transferred on the following principle: Each action initiates an impulse, and therefore a flow of data. A message is anonymized by the transmitter—the vehicle or the traffic authority—and sent to an aggregator, usually by mobile radio. This is the role of the navigation system companies: in this case, Tom Tom and Here.
Under real conditions, the aggregator collates the information and bundles it until a critical number of messages has been reached. The aggregator then becomes a service creator and compiles a warning message. Via the navigation systems or the communication systems of the automobile manufacturers, this warning is then sent to the receiver vehicles who are in the vicinity of the hazard. Thanks to the high market penetration of the navigation services involved, a large number of road users are therefore able to prepare for an acute traffic hazard.
Over the next twelve months, the project will focus on matters of data compatibility and cloud-based data processing. At first, the companies taking part will use the currently installed communication technologies and file formats and, where necessary, develop them further and harmonize them in the next stage. Cooperation between the project partners will start in the Netherlands, and is to be gradually extended to other EU countries.
During the period of the pilot project, the data will flow within a closed eco-system to which only the project partners have access. Daimler says it will only use the test fleet for the project—no customer data will be collected. In addition, the Mercedes-Benz vehicles involved will send all their data in anonymized form: each message will only contain information about the incident and a time stamp. No reference is made to the transmitter vehicle.