German automotive technology supplier Continental says it has made a big step towards creating safer and more intelligent urban environments with the creation of a Smart City Mobility and Transportation Hub in Auburn Hills, Michigan.
At the centre of the new Smart City Mobility and Transportation Hub are two intersections made intelligent due to the deployment of Continental’s sensors and intelligent software integrated into the city’s existing infrastructure. Ultimately, this technology will have the potential to improve traffic flow, add convenience, reduce pollution and, most importantly, significantly increase the intersection’s safety by communicating hidden dangers to approaching connected vehicles (CVs) and pedestrians. In addition, Continental has also installed its new Wrong-Way Driver (WWD) detection system, which warns at-risk drivers in the vicinity of a vehicle heading the wrong way, with the technology currently being showcased at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2020) in Las Vegas.
In its current phase, the Auburn Hills Smart City Mobility and Transportation Hub is collecting important non-personally identifiable information, such as location and movement patterns, about pedestrians, vehicles and other intersection-related activity to create an environment model needed for infrastructure-to-everything (I2X) communication. The environment model provides information about traffic participants including vehicles and vulnerable road users, traffic infrastructure, static objects and the overall road situation to CVs. The Hub’s infrastructure is equipped with Continental’s state-of-the-art short- and long-range radar sensors that have been deployed on a number of vehicle platforms over the years, and enable functions like adaptive cruise control, blind spot detection, forward collision warning, lane change assist and others.
In addition to the radar sensors, the Auburn Hills Hub also has a roadside unit (RSU) and electronic control unit to process data and run the environment model and functions. This combination can offer a number of benefits, such as counting the number of vehicles entering and exiting a specific zone to communicate the number of available parking spaces to interested vehicles. By connecting to a traffic light controller, traffic flow can be better optimised, reducing not only congestion, but also emissions from idling vehicles. The solution can also warn an approaching vehicle about occluded hazards such as pedestrians. With additional analysis and artificial intelligence (AI), intention prediction of pedestrians becomes possible, helping to alert drivers to people planning to cross even when the vehicle has the right of way.
Unlike other solutions on the market, Continental’s WWD detection system relies heavily on its premium automotive-grade radar sensors to spot wrong-way drivers, using a combination of sensors, CV systems and a heatmapping algorithm. The self-learning system automatically defines the roadways and directions of travel, then sends an alert via push notification to a mobile device or CV informing at-risk vehicles of the wrong-way driver’s location, speed and direction of travel. This technology is packaged into a fixed-mount I2X RSU with low power requirements, making it suitable for solar power. While the WWD information and alert can be sent to authorities and at-risk drivers via I2V, V2X or SMS, it could potentially be integrated into widely used navigation apps, increasing penetration and effectiveness.
“With about 80% of Americans living in urban areas, a steady increase in pedestrian fatalities, and more than 43% of crashes taking place at intersections, a focus on improved safety at city intersections has never been more important,” said Jeremy McClain, director of chassis and safety systems and technology for Continental North America. “By bringing together a variety of automotive-grade technologies, systems and expertise, our Smart City technologies have the potential to greatly improve the lives of everyone who enters the area.”