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Car-to-X Technology Enhances Driver Safety by Linking Motorists with Surroundings

Spot hidden dangers, see the best route through traffic and anticipate road conditions sooner with futuristic vehicle tech developed over four year simTD research project

Toni Avery
Jun 25, 2013 SHARE

Driving is a routine part of life for most around the world. As roadways become more congested driving danger increases. Minimizing risk is the goal of a futuristic project, simply called simTD, that is being jointly researched by telecom sectors, universities, the federal state government of Hessen, Germany and auto manufactures such as BMW and Audi to name a few. The 'Safe, Intelligent Mobility - Test Field Germany,' research project or simTD focuses around what's being called Car-to-X technology. The purpose of this intelligent driving tech is to allow drivers to anticipate what lies ahead sooner, reduce driving time and stress, and improve safety. Recently, the culmination of four years of Car-to-X technology research was field tested in urban areas and on highways with more than 120 vehicles (including five BMW motorcycles) in actual traffic and the results were presented in Frankfurt, Germany.

"Within the framework of the research project simTD the feasibility of Car-to-X communication for everyday use was proven in one of the most extensive field tests worldwide. The exchange of information between vehicles, as well as between vehicles and traffic infrastructure, can make a significant contribution to safety, comfort and efficiency in road traffic," said Dr. Christian Weiss, simTD Project Coordinator.

How does it work? Via wireless LAN or mobile network connections, Car-to-X communication links vehicles with other motorists and surrounding infrastructure such as traffic signals. This enables the driver to see real-time dangers and changing road conditions before they occur in front of them. Not only is simTD aiming to improve the safety for drivers in heavily congested areas, but it also seeks to improve efficiency in other areas such as CO2 emissions, which would be reduced greatly by more efficient driving. Additionally the annual cost of traffic incidents could also be reduced significantly thanks to the technologies ability to predict traffic conditions.

in 2008 this project commenced with the help of many. Today, notable auto manufacturers like BMW and Audi are focusing in on key points discovered through simTD research to better its future vehicle models. And while six automakers were involved in the project and field test, we wanted to highlight the latter mentioned two that made significant strides in their testing with simTD.

SimTD_project_3 Photo 2/3   |   Simtd Project 3

BMW:

During the recent Car-to-X technology field test BMW provided 20 of the 120 cars and five motorcycles. The aim for BMW Group in the simTD project was to develop two driver assistance systems: Cross Traffic Assistant and Traffic Sign Assistant "The BMW Group was the only project partner to involve both cars and motorcycles in the field trial," explains Dr. Christoph Grote, Head of BMW Group Research and Technology.

Cross Traffic Assistant:

According to BMW, one third of all accidents in Germany that end in personal injury occur at intersections. So BMW concentrated on improving safety in these situations after analyzing an estimated 4,000 intersections. "The system evaluates all incoming data, such as the speed, distance from the intersection and direction of travel of other road users, along with information generated by the driver's own vehicle. If the driver does not react to an intersecting vehicle, he will be warned by visual as well as acoustic signals," explains Grote. Ultimately this means that a driver can brake in time to avoid an accident. With the current close-to-production positioning technology, the Cross Traffic Assistant function already has the potential to prevent many accidents at intersections."

Traffic Sign Assistant:

Although the name leads you to believe the system only spots traffic signs, this assistant does so much more. The driver is alerted to upcoming road signs and speed limits and can also alert the driver of the best speed to catch upcoming green lights and warn when there is an upcoming red light (Traffic Light Phase Assistance). Upcoming accidents, black ice and other road conditions are also sent in advance to the driver. And lastly, but possibly most important, is the warning of emergency vehicles in addition to suddenly braking vehicles ahead.

BMW ConnectedRide:

Motorcyclists inherently understand the risk of riding amongst traffic and road congestion. The Motorrad ConnectedRide (counterpart to BMW ConnectedDrive) is meant to better protect BMW's two-wheeled customers and focuses on making sure others on the road are aware of motorcycles. Along with making sure that both driver and rider are aware of each other to decrease the chance of collisions, the system also warns of fog, slippery roads, and heavy rain.

Watch this video demonstrating some of BMW's technologies:

Audi:

Similar to BMW, Audi used twenty cars in the field test. Audi Engineers focused in on projects that included Traffic Light Phase Assistant.

Traffic Light Phase Assistant:

The aim of the Traffic Light Phase Assistant project was to achieve the most efficient flow through traffic in heavily congested areas. This was done by retrofitting 20 traffic lights so the cars could communicate with them. And just like in BMW's testing, the drivers were told what the best speed would be to reach the next green light in addition to red light warnings, which would also help improve fuel economy and reduce CO2 emissions.

Watch Audi's video with a technological surprise ending:

simTD Overview

Started in 2008, four years of research by 17 consortium partners including six automakers, two large suppliers, a communications company and several public and scientific institutes made simTD one of the largest projects of its kind in the world. The six-month practical phase or field test included 500 test drivers in 120 cars and five motorcycles covered a total of 1.03 million miles. Each vehicle was networked with one another via specially developed radio transmission equipment and a traffic control center.

The Next Stage:

The next development stage goes beyond simTD's project scope. Moving past converting traffic lights themselves, cars will be connected to a central traffic control computer via the Universal Mobile Telecommunication System (UMTS). Participating in this stage are 35 Audi A1 e-trons, which already have this technology.

Traffic light info online has reached market readiness. The system allows for CO2 emissions to be reduced by up to a projected 15 percent, equal to about 900 million liters or 237.75 million gallons of fuel per year by saving gas through more efficient driving habits and routes.

SimTD_project Photo 3/3   |   Simtd Project
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By Toni Avery
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