Technology is progressing at an ever-increasing rate, and the automotive field is no exception. Today’s modern cars are becoming more and more connected to the online world through “the cloud”, an Internet-based system of software and services that can be accessed through a variety of methods. Many computers, tablets and cell phones are already using the cloud through services such as Dropbox and Google Drive, and now vehicles are beginning to become connected and cloud-compatible as well.
Connected cars are able to access, collect and process a wide range of data through the cloud. This ability will make it possible for these vehicles to communicate with other vehicles, smart devices and even digital assistants. The possibilities for connected vehicles are nearly endless, including:
- Exchanging data with other cars
- Alerting drivers to potential traffic concerns
- Communicating with travel sensors, such as stoplights, bus stops and even roads
- Sending information to individual homes or offices
- Accessing assistance programs like Google Now
V2V Communication: How Does it Work?
Vehicle-to-vehicle communication, more briefly referred to as V2V communication, is cloud-based technology that enables vehicles to exchange various data. The cloud itself acts as a central hub and provides a massive amount of information to any device that requests access to it; this can include vehicles as well. As the current smart devices, such as phones and tablets (and watches) are able to tap into the Internet from just about anywhere using cell phone services and other technologies, it is conceivable that vehicles could do the same. Connected cars would be able to retrieve information from the cloud from anywhere and at any time, as long as they have Internet connectivity. This is why researchers and developers have started looking for ways to integrate such technology to vehicles and see just how much this would impact the overall traffic.
Vehicles with access to the cloud would have a vast array of information at their disposal. In addition to the processing and analytical capabilities provided by the cloud, connected cars will also be able to store various information and interpret the data in real-time.
Cars with V2V capabilities will be able to:
- Receive updates about weather, traffic flow and even necessary errands.
- Offer rerouting options in case of construction, slowed traffic flow or accidents (the data for which would be provided by other V2V vehicles).
- Store personal preferences such as mirror and seat positions.
- Maintain bookmarked information for later use.
- Update personal calendars and track important dates and appointments.
- Download iTunes or Spotify playlists directly to the radio.
Is V2V Communication Possible and What Benefits Will it Bring?
The technology needed to support V2V communication is actually already in use – computer systems and mobile devices use it on a daily basis. This is why many businesses are becoming interested in marketing directly to connected vehicles.
In fact, Ericsson has already developed their Ericsson Connected Vehicle Cloud and made it readily available to developers, government organizations, businesses and manufacturers from the automotive industry, offering all of them the ability to reach out to drivers and passengers with information and services. The end users (drivers and passengers) are able to enjoy a completely new in-car experience.
The connected vehicle cloud provides the end user with apps that provide information, navigation and even entertainment directly to the installed vehicle. This Ericsson model is designed to provide effective, connected communication options to drivers and passengers, while offering minimal driver distraction. Automotive manufacturers are able to build loyalty and stronger customer relationships by offering a range of integrated services, while partners are able to connect their customers (vehicle owners) to manufacturer interfaces, databases, dealerships, repair shops and more. Developers are able to work on an open platform and produce new apps for end users.
Utilizing V2V communication will do more than allow car users to access a wealth of information.
- Lower traffic congestion – the cars will be safely rerouted to alternative roads and routes, which will cut down on traffic congestion significantly
- Improved safety – thanks to systems such as the Early Crash Alert, which will let cars communicate speed, direction and location with each other, there will be fewer instances of crashes
- Lower pollution – due to lower congestion and less time spent in traffic, the pollution caused by motor vehicles will be lower as well
The U.S. Department of Transportation has recognized these benefits and decided to provide its support, as well as a more active role in making sure that V2V communication technology becomes available to future vehicles. The Department of Transportation is especially excited about the improved safety features, especially crash prevention, thanks to Left Turn Assist (LTA) and Intersection Movement Assist (IMA) options that are cloud-based. LTA will warn drivers not to turn left if there is another vehicle in front of them travelling in the opposite direction, while IMA will give out a warning when it’s not safe to enter an intersection because of a likelihood of a crash.
How will V2V Technology be Integrated?
Today, there are three different proposals on how to add technology that would allow V2V communication into vehicles:
- OEM – the technology is built into the vehicle during its original production and often provides both audio and visual warnings about potential issues with the vehicle or the surroundings.
- Aftermarket – the technology is added after the original assembly; aftermarket devices are typically not as fully integrated as those applied during production; V2V aftermarket devices can be installed by dealerships or authorized dealers. Other aftermarket devices could be standalone and portable devices that can be carried by the passenger or driver.
- Infrastructure-based – These devices are actually based on road infrastructure items such as road signs and traffic signals. The vehicles would be able to receive information from infrastructure devices, which will help prevent accidents and provide environmental benefits; this communication process is called Vehicle-to-Infrastructure Communication, or V2I, for short. This type of communication could give a warning when a vehicle violates a red light or a stop sign, has excessive speed, enters a reduced speed zone, enters a spot with abrupt weather changes and similar.
Limitations and Issues with V2V Communication
Today’s vehicles are equipped with sensors, such as radar, lidar, mono and stereo cameras or a combination of these sensors to be able to detect threats in and around the vehicle. Relying more fully on Internet-based systems creates several limitations that have to be addressed:
- Availability issues – Because V2V is based on GPS availability, common outages, reduced visibility due to heavy foliage or low-lying land and even adverse weather conditions can severely affect the usefulness of this connectivity, making the vehicle blind without conventional sensors.
- Safety message congestion issues – As more vehicles become equipped with this technology, there will be times when too many of cars are attempting to share the network in close proximity to each other. This can potentially compromise the accuracy of the system, thereby reducing its effectiveness.
- Relative positioning limitations – Like the availability and congestion issues, there could be issues with road-level accuracy in highly traveled urban areas or in those with limited sky coverage.
- Cyber security – Whenever technology communicates with itself, even through cloud-based options, there are some concerns about cyber security and the potential for cyber attacks or a loss of online privacy. These are issues that V2V will need to continually address as hackers become savvier.
- Public acceptance – With great changes to vehicles and to the driving experience, it is common to find public concern. Ongoing research and study about the uses and safety of V2V communication should continue to mitigate these issues with time.
When Will V2V be Here?
Although there are still several hurdles to overcome in the process of creating a perfect system of vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication, the technology and systems are being thoroughly tested as we speak. The fact that the U.S. Department of Transportation is backing the project(s) leads to a conclusion that we should have access to this technology rather soon.
The future of vehicle communication is exciting and continually changing, and many auto manufacturers are not stopping at V2V.
Many of them are investigating the possibility of driverless or autonomous cars. While this type of technology may seem far-fetched, the ability for cars to communicate with each other and their surroundings, the main premise behind V2V communication, is the first stepping-stone towards making driverless cars possible.
Vehicle-to-vehicle communication is a ground-breaking technology that will completely revolutionize the way that people drive and the way that traffic works. What do you think about V2V communication? Is it a good idea or a potentially unsafe option that you would never want in your car?