Cohda Wireless V2X tech gives German firefighters the green light


The German city of Ludwigsburg just north Stuttgart has been equipped with Cohda Wireless’s  V2X technology to enable fire trucks and rescue service teams to get to accidents and emergencies faster, potentially saving lives long into the future.

In an initiative led by leading traffic technology group Swarco, all traffic lights and intersections in Ludwigsburg (pop. 85,000) have been fitted with Cohda MK5 Road-Side Units which correspond with the equivalent MK5 On-Board Units in fire trucks and rescue vehicles to grant them green-light passage en route to emergencies, when every second counts.

Following a successful pilot project in early 2019, Swarco has equipped 114 traffic lights in Ludwigsburg with Cohda’s technology which allows them to exchange information directly with approaching vehicles using DSRC (standardised radio). The ACTROS control units of the traffic lights were equipped with the necessary program, which automatically prioritises the fire engines as they pass through.

The system works by sending messages relaying position and speed, several times per second, from emergency vehicles to a traffic light controller. There, the signals are processed and compared with the scenarios stored in the programming. If the system detects an approaching emergency vehicle, the programmed signal sequence is started and the traffic light controller switches to the prioritisation program. Once the firefighters have passed the intersection, the traffic light controller switches back to normal as quickly as possible to minimize impact on road traffic and traffic disturbance.

This is a prime example of a cooperative, intelligent transport system that is geared to saving lives. “V2X technology improves safety on our roads and is usually applied to help reduce injury and death. This initiative demonstrates the versatility of the technology,” says Dr Paul Gray, Cohda Wireless’s CEO. “In this instance, it is being applied to support emergency services in responding to incidents and accidents that have already happened, thereby also saving lives.”

Ludwigsburg’s mayor Dr. Matthias Knecht said the fire department prioritisation in his city is a first full practical application of V2X in Germany and makes Ludwigsburg a showcase city that is already relying on innovative C-ITS technologies and intelligent traffic lights, thus preparing for its future as a smart city.

“A primary goal of our mobility concept is to optimise the traffic flow. To achieve this, we also rely on intelligent traffic light systems,” says Dr. Knecht. “Swarco’s technology for prioritising emergency vehicles of the fire brigade is an excellent example for this – because in an emergency every second counts, of course. Together with the city of Ludwigsburg, Swarco has developed this innovative technology and brought it to the streets.”

Cohda Wireless’s technology has been applied in other similar ways to make roads safer. In Estonia and Finland, Cohda’s V2X hardware and software features in a smart pedestrian crosswalk solution which alerts pedestrians and other road-users to danger.

In Norway, Cohda’s vehicle positioning system contributed to a successful trial carried out in the Bjørnegård tunnel in the municipality of Bærum. The purpose of the trial was to demonstrate the efficacy of Cohda Wireless’s world-leading vehicle positioning solution, V2X-Locate, in the newly built 2.2km tunnel in an effort to improve vehicle safety in this tunnel and others like it around the world.

Cohda’s software products are applied in more than 60% of all V2X field trials in the world today in compliance with US Federal Communications Commission, European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) and Chinese standards.

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).