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Connected Mobility

Connected mobility lessens risks at critical points

Stefan Westphal
May 4, 2015 5
construction site on highwaySource: fotolia/fototamara

Driving on highways always starts to become dangerous whenever there are out-of-the-ordinary conditions. Ordinary conditions, especially in Germany, mean: open roads. Anything that hinders the free flow of traffic heightens the risk of accidents. Road construction sites belong in this category. Every year, there are about 1,200 accidents with personal injuries at highway construction sites in Germany alone. The European project “Cooperative ITS (Intelligent Transport System) Corridor” aims to change this from 2015 on with the help of connected mobility.

The general procedure at construction sites is to use trailers to block certain lanes as drivers approach the hindrance. This is the point where the system goes into action. In the future, small transmitters on the trailers will signal the approaching vehicles: “Caution, hazard ahead!” The warning is displayed to the drivers on the instrument panel so that they can prepare to react.

Experts for connected mobility such as the traffic sociologist Alfred Fuhr have long been calling for the “talking road” to improve traffic safety. In actuality, this concept means easily recognizable and logically understandable signage on roads and obstacles. However, when the active construction site warning — one of the many services which will become possible thanks to connected mobility — is in place, the hindrance genuinely “talks” to drivers by actively transmitting a warning signal.

Connected mobility using wireless networks

Technologically speaking, the Cooperative ITS corridor is a part of the future vehicle-to-X concept (V2X). The installation of a new WiFi standard optimized for vehicle communication enables vehicles to share data with one another (vehicle-to-vehicle, V2V) and with the traffic infrastructure (vehicle-to-infrastructure, V2I). Depending on the specific application, wireless networks are involved as well. The range of services available in the future will not be limited to construction site warnings. Car drivers can be alerted to the approach of a motorcycle from the side just as truck drivers can be alerted to the dreaded situation of traffic congestion waiting out of sight just around the next bend. There is a tremendous enhancement of road safety.

Over the course of 2015, the first V2X transmitters on construction site trailers will be installed within a test corridor established from Rotterdam in the Netherlands to Frankfurt and Munich in Germany and on to Vienna in Austria. The technology demonstrated its reliability back in 2013 at the conclusion of the field trial simTD in the vicinity of Frankfurt. The initiators of this latest implementation, officials from the transport ministries in Germany, Austria, and the Netherlands, are above all interested in developing organizational structures. The data from interconnected vehicles and infrastructure will also be used for the management of traffic flows.

In addition to the enhancement of road safety, the interconnection of cars, motorcycles, trucks, and buses will generally help to prevent traffic congestion and jams, sparing both the environment and drivers’ nerves.

What other solutions could connected mobility offer to improve traffic safety on highways even further? Add your suggestions!

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  • Jürgens 11. May 2015 at 10:34

    Well, I’m currently a mechanical engineering master student at the TU Dortmund and am still searching for a project/master thesis topic.
    Looking into either of the topics above would be very interesting to me. If that is of interest for you I would be happy to send you my CV and an application.

    Reply
  • Stefan Westphal 6. May 2015 at 17:39

    @Jürgens

    For me living in Hamburg (sometimes feels like the capital of potholes) after a few winters with heavy road destroying forces I really love the idea to detect potholes with the built in car sensors. Until now, you have to call the city council and describe them, where you have found a pothole (like: “between road x and y, just behind the second tree on the left etc.”). It would be great to optimize this process to save tax money and speed up the repair.

    The same with parking slot detection. Using the car technology is an awesome approach without the need of putting extra sensors under the asphalt.

    Reply
  • Jürgens 6. May 2015 at 16:37

    Another thought…
    Providing a detailed parking spot map to cars would allow cars to identify taken and empty slots while driving down the road or though a car park with existing distance sensors. “airing” the information would allow other drivers to quickly find a slot, saving CO2, time, nerve and improve traffic conditions for other drivers. Even locked cars should send an update when a slot next to the car becomes vacant.
    That would also make systems such as Siemens project (http://www.siemens.com/innovation/de/news/2015/inno_1505_2.htm) obsolete and again save resources as existing sensors are used in comparison to additional boxes mounted to lanterns.

    Reply
  • Jürgens 6. May 2015 at 16:26

    Hello,
    first of all I may be a bit paranoid about these things, but to me it would be very important that absolutely no personal information is send from my car. Even the send date (i.e. speed, direction) should not be saved in other cars or server parks as it would allow to reconstruct accidents etc..
    Having said that progress will not be stopped by my concerns.

    It might be interesting for city councils and road construction departments to identify potholes using already existing sensors in cars. Once the technology is common this would allow to remotely identify/estimate the size and depth of the potholes as well as the number of cars driving through the pothole.
    Plotting the information on a map would allow decision makers to always have an up to date road status and improve the reaction time and coordination of repairs etc.

    Reply
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