Connected vehicles are those which use any number of different communication technologies to communicate with the driver, other cars on the road (vehicle-to-vehicle, V2V) roadside infrastructure (vehicle-to-infrastructure, V2I) and the 'cloud' (V2C). This technology can be used to not only improve vehicle safety, but also to improve vehicle efficiency and commute times. Listed below are the types of communication:
This is the first in a series of articles in which the CAV Safety Hub focuses on the issue of connectivity. To kick off, Prof. Nick Reed, founder of Reed Mobility explores how we drive and the potential contribution that connected technologies can make to road safety…
Can road safety benefit from the ‘IDAS’ touch?
How do we drive? Given the importance of the mobility of people, goods and services in securing prosperity and the fact that annual road deaths exceed 1.3 million, this is a question that has massive importance. Michon (1985) produced an intuitively appealing model of the driving task, suggesting that drivers operate with strategic, tactical and operational levels of control:
· The strategic level (operating over minutes or hours) represents the driver’s trip goals and route selection (e.g., drive to the supermarket following the shortest route);
· The tactical level (operating over seconds) represents the driving manoeuvres selected to achieve the strategic goal (e.g., take the right-hand lane at the junction to position the vehicle correctly for turning right)
· The operational level (operating over milliseconds) is the moment-to-moment actions of the driver, using the vehicle controls to perform the selected manoeuvres (e.g., continuous inputs to the steering wheel to steer the vehicle smoothly from the left-hand lane to the right-hand lane).
At each level, a driver must:
· process sensory inputs (e.g., seeing the road ahead and observing the presence and behaviour of other road users);
· combine those existing knowledge and experiences (e.g., awareness of the rules of the road and knowing how other drivers, pedestrians, cyclists etc. behave);
· select and perform suitable actions to achieve the desired outcome (e.g., apply the brakes to stop at a zebra crossing to allow a pedestrian to cross).
At first, the driver was solely responsible for all these tasks – whether this was observing the road ahead or applying inputs to the controls to affect the behaviour of the vehicle. However, over the course of the 20th century, technology has played an increasing role in aiding the driver. This began with power steering, assisted brakes and synchronous transmissions and progressed with anti-lock brakes and electronic stability control. More recently, advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) do not only support intentional actions made by the driver but also use sensors to detect, process and use information from the driving environment; for example, lane keeping systems, autonomous emergency braking and satellite navigation systems. Each uses sensors to detect aspects of the driving environment and provide feedback to the driver and / or control inputs to the vehicle to increase safety and ease the driving task.
The 21st century has seen the dramatic emergence of connected and automated vehicles (CAVs) as a potentially practical proposition. However, in the hype surrounding connected and automated vehicles (CAVs), the more prosaic benefits of connectivity have tended to be overshadowed by automation – the apparent magic of a vehicle driving without human input. However, with progress on automated driving development proving more challenging than had been anticipated, systems and services that provide road safety benefits through connectivity are coming to the fore. The recently published Department for Transport Connected Vehicle Data Strategy notes:
“There is much untapped data than can be exploited quickly to improve our roads. Smarter parking, reduced congestion and better information are things that people want and are already feasible.”
However, the report cautions that:
“A cultural change is needed, and commitment to accelerate the use of connected vehicle data. Technology is not a key barrier; institutions, organisations and business models are.”
Connected vehicle services benefit from the near-ubiquity of cellular data coverage, growing capabilities for the secure collection and analysis of data from a variety of sources and the momentum that exists with vehicle manufacturers, technology providers, transport authorities and road users to capitalise on the opportunities that these present. Mobility solutions provider, Bosch, has begun describing such technologies that combine systems within and beyond the vehicle to deliver benefits to drivers as IDAS – intelligent driver assistance services.
Perhaps the first basic example of a safety feature based on connectivity was eCall. This system, which was made mandatory for new cars and vans sold in the European Union in 2018, automatically detects the occurrence of a serious impact (e.g., through airbag deployment) and contacts the emergency services, sending the time of incident, the accurate position of the crashed vehicle and the direction of travel.
Connected vehicle services that are expected to enhance safety are systems that inform drivers of approaching hazards (slow vehicles ahead, emergency vehicles, roadworks, extreme environmental conditions etc.). By providing relevant and timely information about the external environment, these connected services extend the drivers sensory capabilities, allowing them to make better tactical and operational decisions in their driving behaviour. Connectivity may also simplify the task of finding and booking parking spaces, reducing the time wasted, frustration and potential driving risk from circulating busy roads trying to find a parking space. Similarly, GLOSA (green light optimised speed advisory) systems indicate the speed at which a driver should proceed to meet traffic light-controlled junctions with a green signal, promoting smoother, safer and more efficient driving.
As more users engage with connected vehicle services, the more value those services offer and, for some applications, it is possible to gain rapid market penetration by deployment through smartphones. As well as being available as a native application in some vehicles, Bosch’s wrong way driver (WWD) warning system can also be deployed through smartphones (or indeed any connected device with GPS location data). WWD uses anonymised position data to detect when a vehicle is travelling in the vicinity of a highway junction. If the movement of the vehicle is heading in the wrong direction on a one-way road (typically heading towards a highway on what is actually the highway exit road), the system can trigger a warning to the driver that they are heading in the wrong direction. It can also send alerts to drivers / devices in the vicinity that have the WWD system, indicating that a vehicle heading in the wrong direction has been detected nearby.
However, one final note of caution – with connectivity comes the ability to access a plethora of distractions whether email, WhatsApp, Netflix or TikTok. A critical task for technology providers is to ensure that users can exploit the positive benefits of connectivity and avoid the pitfalls. Similarly, users must recognise that, even though connectivity can enhance safe driving, it must not be misused in ways that introduce risk – at least until the car can do all the driving for us! Before then, perhaps IDAS can bring us ever closer to road safety gold.
Can road safety benefit from the ‘IDAS’ touch?