In a joint project with the German city of Wolfsburg, Volkswagen and Siemens are trialling new functionalities for the local exchange of information between vehicles and digital transport infrastructure (V2X) using the WLANp (ITS-G5) protocol for Cooperative ITS systems.
Volkswagen and Siemens are currently setting up a test section on a main road in Wolfsburg in which 10 traffic signal systems will transmit the traffic light phase information to vehicles in the vicinity via the WLANp (IEEE 802.11p) wireless communication protocol that has been adopted by VW.
Future V2X-equipped vehicles will be able to process that information and inform drivers for example, when all traffic lights in succession are on green so that they can avoid braking or accelerating unnecessarily. In the near future, automated assistant functions will be able to do this without driver intervention. It is hoped that the ‘forward-looking’ light-phase information availability in vehicles will improve the flow of traffic in built-up areas, and will also contribute to road safety in general.
In addition to the signal phase data, two crossroads in Wolfsburg are also being equipped with modern sensor technology to detect pedestrians and cyclists. Due to be introduced at scale by Volkswagen next year, the WLANp V2X technology will be supplemented with additional messages including the pedestrians and cyclist warning information from the traffic-light-mounted sensors. The messages will intervene in situations where the driver or vehicle are unaware of surrounding road users with their own senses/sensors or are slow to react to their presence. Vulnerable road users, such as pedestrians and cyclists, who are often involved in intersection accidents, should gain enhanced safety.
A number of partners are currently working to expand the existing WLANp standards, which should be completed even faster with the launch of this pilot project in a real-world traffic environment. Cooperative ITS functions can only be effective if the transport infrastructure and all road users are speaking the same digital language, which is why Volkswagen and Siemens are supporting the European Union’s objective of establishing a binding framework for networked driving across the continent in the near future.
“Crossroads equipped with radar sensor technology are able to significantly increase accuracy in the detection of pedestrians and cyclists. Information that vehicles are not able to detect themselves is provided at complex intersections and accident black spots in particular,” explained Manfred Fuhg, head of Siemens Mobility in Germany.
“Based on systems with artificial intelligence in traffic signal systems, intelligent control methods can provide vehicles with much more precise information on red and green phases than was previously possible.”
Gunnar Koether, head of vehicle safety at Volkswagen, added, “From today’s perspective, the use of transport infrastructure, particularly in towns and cities, offers crucial advantages over other Car2X approaches. Unlike the relatively inaccurate position data of a smartphone, the use of sensors analogous to the vehicle offers highly accurate data for a critical area. An essential condition for avoiding false warnings. In addition to the technical hurdles, privacy is another aspect which could put people off using their personal smartphones.”