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Continental Automotive Systems Demonstrates Car-To-Car and Car-To-Roadside Communication Technology

During presentations at the Telematics Update Intelligent Vehicle Safety Detroit and Telematics Update Detroit symposiums, Continental Automotive Systems announced it has successfully demonstrated its first three car-to-car and car-to-infrastructure telematics applications. During the events, the company is outlining its vision that combines its experience in active and passive safety systems with next-generation telematics applications. The goal is to develop intelligent in-vehicle electronics that can alert drivers in advance of potential hazards, including: poor traction conditions; the approach of an ambulance or other emergency vehicle; or when a potential crash or broken-down vehicle may cause an obstruction in the road ahead.

The research and development efforts Continental is exploring are aligned with the U.S. government’s Vehicle Infrastructure Integration (VII) Initiative. VII is investigating how to apply technology to vehicles and roads in an effort to reduce traffic congestion and enhance vehicle safety for millions of motorists in North America. Primary stakeholders of the VII initiative include the driving public, state departments of transportation (DOTs) and the automotive industry.

Continental is beginning to collaborate with VII stakeholders and is introducing its Active Passive Integration Approach (APIA) + Telematics project to them at the Telematics Update Intelligent Vehicle Safety Detroit conference. The global automotive supplier is a Gold Sponsor of the event. Continental Automotive Systems’ APIA project consists of forward looking radar integrated with the vehicle’s braking, and passive safety systems (air bags and seatbelts). The result is a vehicle with “electronic reflexes” that can respond instantly to avoid an impending crash. The global supplier is highlighting how it intends to integrate Telematics into that vision and announced that it utilized Motorola’s MOTODRIVE roadside network, a high mobility, mesh architecture – deployed with the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) – to successfully demonstrate the following in-vehicle capabilities to U.S. transportation officials last week:

E-flare: anticipating hazards in advance and responding in time

Before a car reaches a blind curve in the road, the driver receives an audible signal or cockpit display warning if an obstruction presents itself on the road ahead. These optical and acoustic warnings may also be accompanied by an intuitive signal from the force-feedback gas pedal that presses back on the driver’s foot, suggesting the driver reduce speed. This “e-flare” function is one of the latest telematics applications that Continental is exploring to warn drivers of a hazard ahead. In parallel with the warning system, the telematics module embedded inside the vehicle involved in the potential hazard could transmit a warning signal within a radius of 300 to 500 meters to other telematics-equipped vehicles. In the future, the signal would be sent via Dedicated Short-Range Communications (DSRC) broadband communication technology, the automotive version of a Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN). This car-to-car communication can provide drivers of other cars with additional time to reduce their speeds and approach the hazard cautiously.

E-horn: safe traffic control

As a driver approaches a busy intersection, an internal warning signal sounds and a blue light appears on the display, possibly accompanied by a text and/or audio message indicating an emergency vehicle is approaching from a certain direction. A telematics unit in the emergency vehicle transmits the warning information to nearby vehicles, enabling the drivers to brake in time before the vehicle speeds through the intersection. If the intersection traffic is controlled by a set of traffic lights that are also equipped with a wireless telematics module, they also receive signals from the emergency vehicle (car-to-infrastructure communication). The traffic lights then can switch to green for the emergency vehicle and simultaneously transmit additional warning signals to the vehicles crossing its path.

Telematics: vital information on road and traffic conditions

Telematics can also turn the car into a sensor that warns traffic of poor road conditions, such as an icy road. The telematics unit can transmit warnings about this potential hazard using data provided over the vehicle’s data bus by the Electronic Stability Control (ESC) system. If the ESC identifies a potential hazard from a slippery or icy road, the telematics unit can notify all vehicles in the vicinity. In addition to this car-to-car communication, the relevant information can be forwarded to a traffic control center, which could incorporate this information into roadside hazard-warning displays to warn drivers. If necessary, the control center could re-route traffic by recommending detours, thus preventing traffic jams.

Telematics solutions extending the scope of the APIA project

“Functions such as these, which our organization has developed to an advanced stage, show quite clearly that telematics can make our streets safer and save lives,” said Dr. Karl-Thomas Neumann, chairman of the Continental Automotive Systems Board and member of the Continental AG Executive Board. “Car-to-car communication and car-to-infrastructure communication based on DSRC technology could help drivers to avoid critical situations. We are providing cars with extra senses, as it were, which enable them to see around corners and warn others of any hazards they spot. These senses are a key building block in our organization’s Active Passive Integration Approach (APIA) project.”

“As soon as a uniform wireless standard is established, we will integrate the DSRC technology into our APIA approach,” Dr. Neumann added. “This will take vehicle and traffic safety to a new level. The organizational structure of our company enables us to provide not just the functional expertise, but also all the necessary components and subsystems from one source – from electronic brakes and environmental sensors to telematics units.”

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