STUTTGART, GERMANY – As part of “Project sim” (Safe and Intelligent Mobility), one of the largest-ever field trials of car-to-X communication (C2X) got under way this month on the roads of Germany.
The trial, headed by Daimler AG, consists of 120 vehicles traveling the roads of the Rhine-Main region until the end of the year. Each car has a network link to the others, as well as to the traffic infrastructure. They will keep each other updated about current traffic conditions. For example, if the tail end of a traffic jam on the A5 autobahn is hidden behind the crest of a hill, vehicles approaching the congested area can be alerted early, allowing a driver to take appropriate action.
In situations where drivers have difficulty seeing what’s happening on the road ahead of them, C2X technology can help to prevent pileups. C2X systems can also assist in controlling traffic light systems according to demand, thereby optimizing traffic flow.
Daimler is also engaged in C2X communication research in the U.S. At Daimler's site in Palo Alto, Calif., the automaker is fitting C2X systems to vehicles and carrying out tests.
The aim of the recently launched field trial in Germany is to test the systems’ suitability for everyday use in real-life traffic conditions.
"We are convinced that C2X communication is going to play an important role in the mobility of the future," said sim project leader Dr. Christian Weiß, who is in charge of cooperating systems at Daimler Research and Advance Development. "C2X communication allows us to detect objects and hazardous situations far beyond the immediate environment of the vehicle. This is a significant step on the path towards accident-free driving."
Project sim is a collaborative effort involving German automakers, automotive suppliers, communications companies, research institutes and the public sector.
Continental Corp., an automotive supplier based in Germany, is among the project's partners.
"In recent years, driving has already become much safer thanks to advanced electronic driver assistance systems based on cameras, radar and infrared sensors that monitor a vehicle's surroundings," explained Dr. Peter E. Rieth, senior vice president of systems and technology in Continental's Chassis & Safety Division. "Car-to-X communication goes one step further, allowing us to see around corners, as it were, and consequently to drive even more foresightedly. This brings us a significant step closer to making the roads even safer."
Continental has developed the communication control unit (CCU) that enables information to be shared over different channels, such as a universal mobile telecommunications system (UMTS) or an automotive wireless local area network (WLAN). Positioning and time synchronization data can also be accessed via GPS. Together, the communication control unit and a vehicle application unit, which was developed by project partner Bosch within the sim project, form the intelligent transportation systems vehicle station that's installed in all sim test vehicles.
Continental is developing the M2XPro sensor and the Intelligent Antenna Module, two components that will create an inexpensive car-to-x system. The M2XPro sensor (Motion information 2 X Provider) can determine precisely which traffic lane a vehicle is located in, using driving dynamics sensors with GPS data. The sensor uses an intelligent fusion algorithm to provide other control units with a vehicle's motion information together with a precise time base – a key requirement for car-to-x communication.