Selecting the right network
The most obvious conduit to use for connecting cars is the cellular network, but this is wholly unsuitable, say car makers, because of its non-deterministic nature.
Imagine yourself in a queue of cars on a greasy road. A car you can’t see because there’s a big white van between the two of you performs an emergency stop 100 metres ahead. Within milliseconds it informs every other car within a 300 metre radius, and your car is able to warn you in enough time to stop safely without fuss.
Hidden hazard warning: the truck warns the car about the overtaking motorbike
Source: Car-2-Car Consortium
Or you’re trying to pull out into a busy road with parked cars blocking your view - and there’s a motorbike coming, which you can't see. The bike’s systems warn your car of its presence, the car warns you and an accident is averted.
The cellular network can’t deliver the necessary speed of response. Messages from cars can’t be prioritised and would be subject to delays, depending both on the number of connections to and the distance from the cell’s base station.
So instead the CAR-2-CAR Communication Consortium has developed a 5.9GHz radio network protocol, known as DSRC (Dedicated Short Range Communications), with a reach of around 500 metres in clear air. Between 30MHz and 75MHz of the 5.9GHz band has been officially assigned to transportation systems by the US and European regulators.
“The network is a global standard,” says van der Jagt. “The current system has a short range but even on four-lane motorway, there could be thousands of cars in an area. If you used the mobile network, the radius would increase so you would get information from 5km away, which is not as useful. Instead, the car needs to analyse information from 3000 cars in a few milliseconds. I need to be able to reject cars that are not in my path and narrow the data down to cars that could be a threat.”
Each car can send messages - which are about the car and its environment, not the driver - at between one and ten times a second, depending on circumstances and urgency. The cost of these souped-up car radios is expected to be low, adding around £65 or $100 to the cost of a car.
Honda’s Sergeys reckons that historically, technology innovators have viewed the car as “an isolated metal box”. But now, hje says, “with this technology, the inputs won’t just be the driver peering through the windscreen and getting information from the wheel and seat. They will be part of a network where cars talk to each other without the driver needing to know, until they need to be warned.”
Hidden hazard warning: beware, fast moving Fireblade coming in your direction
Source: Car-2-Car Consortium
The legal basis to permit the use of what the EU calls Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) is already in place. According to Sergeys, ITS has over 100 stakeholder groups in Europe, including government bodies, standards organisations, automotive industry OEMs, suppliers and service providers.
All this technology doesn’t come without disadvantages. Ford’s Van der Jagt reckons that, eventually, like electronic stability control in modern cars, you won’t be able to turn ITS off - and it could even become a legal requirement. Although, as was the case seat belts and emissions control equipment, owners of older cars are unlikely to be forced to retro-fit, the insurance industry is likely to levy lower premiums on cars perceived as safer.
Next page: Mis-use fears
I'm feeling very very depressed.
If you want to drive coupled to the car in front, take the bloody train. I for one don't want my drive controlled my Mr 40mph in the middle lane. I don't want to read my emails or download entertainment from teh intarwebs or be thrown adverts or routed onto a different road.
The very most I want to know is 'this road is subject to delays because xxx'. That's it.
The scenarios illustrated in the article are fanciful at best: the amount of processing power required to uniquely and unambiguously identify every other vehicle in sight, in all conditions of temperature, visibility, and weather; to identify road conditions and braking distances and 'that bloke never had a driving lesson in his life' and that ball that just rolled onto the road is likely to have a kid following it and ooh, an ice cream van... nah. We've got a computer that can do that, and it's made with great delight and unskilled labour.
We don't need mechanisms to stop us having to think; we need educating *to* think.
Re: Like Marvin
Perhaps there can be a system to tell Mr 40mph to get the %$^£ out of the middle lane because he's not overtaking anyone at that speed and is causing tailbacks halfway across the country....
This is all going to end in tears...
Just wait until the mission creep sets in and everyone and their dogs can gain access to your personal motoring data under crime, terrorism or kiddie protection legislation. Reminding you that your MOT / tax is due is fine, as is letting you know there's something wrong with your engine or you've got a nail in your tyre is fine. AutoPhorm, location tracking, letting SonyBMG know you've been playing Susan Boyle content leeched of l33torrentz and driver profiling is not.
"check the status"?
"You’ll be able to check the status of your car long before you slip in behind the wheel."
What's a car's "status"? I can't think of anything that I want to ask my car before I get in. No doubt the car will just reply: "It's complicated".
Re: Like Marvin
"That said, motorways have three lanes"
Not all of them.
I've also noticed that Mr Middle Lane Driver doesn't often tend to notice much of what's happening behind them, including but not limited to large queues, beeping horns, flashing lights and whatnot.