Volvo Car Group has teamed with the Swedish Transport Administration (Trafikverket) and the Norwegian Public Roads Administration (Statens Vegvesen) on a pilot project in which individual cars use a cloud-based system to share information about slippery road conditions.
“We have 50 test cars on the roads, and next winter the fleet will grow considerably,” said Erik Israelsson, project leader of cooperative intelligent transport systems at Volvo Cars. “Our aim is to make the technology available for our customers within a few years.”
The real-time data on icy and slippery road patches will simultaneously warn nearby vehicles and alert road maintenance crews.
“The pilot is one of the first practical examples of the way communication between vehicles over the mobile network enables vehicles to ‘speak’ to each other and with the traffic environment,” Israelsson said. “This can contribute to making traffic safer.”
When a Volvo test car detects a slippery road patch, the information is transmitted to Volvo Cars’ database via the mobile phone network. An instant warning is transmitted to other vehicles approaching the slippery area, so those drivers can take immediate action to avoid the dangerous road condition.
A slippery road warning on the instrument cluster alerts the driver. The application in the vehicle will be designed to indicate the risk severity level, taking into account vehicle speed and road conditions.
The information about the icy patch is also sent to road maintenance personnel.
“When the road administrator has access to information from a large number of cars, the data can be used to make winter road maintenance more efficient,” Israelsson explained. “The information could help to improve road safety further for all road users. This could also reduce the use of salt when not needed and minimize the environmental impact.”
Volvo Cars stressed that drivers' privacy will not be compromised. The information shared with the road administrator will not include data of specific vehicles. The information gathered will be used solely to describe the current status of road conditions.
The automaker said it strategically invests in and initiates partnerships to create cloud-based solutions, and the slippery road warning is the first safety feature in the Volvo cloud.
“The strategic focus on connectivity within our new Scalable Product Architecture paves the way for more cloud-based safety solutions,” Israelsson said. “This will bring us closer to our safety vision that nobody should die or suffer serious injuries in a new Volvo car by the year 2020.”