NetworkNewsWire Editorial Coverage
The designers of self-driving vehicles are creating cars that will talk with each other and their surrounding environment.
- Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X) systems allow vehicles to gather information from each other, from local communication networks and even from urban infrastructure.
- V2X systems allow self-driving cars to travel more safely and efficiently.
- The V2X technology could reduce accidents, congestion and pollution.
- Early versions of this technology are now being tested.
Foresight Autonomous Holdings Ltd. is developing the Eye-Net cellular V2X system, through Eye-Net Mobile, its subsidiary company. Ford Motor Company has called upon urban authorities to create infrastructure to support V2X. Tesla, Inc. is taking big steps forward in self-driving technology, using the batteries of its electric cars to power sensors, processors and other self-driving systems. NXP Semiconductors N.V. is producing secure connectivity systems for vehicles to combat the threat of someone hacking the controls. Qualcomm, Inc. (NASDAQ : QCOM ) is providing electronic components for autonomous systems to major car manufacturers.
To view an infographic of this editorial, click here.
Bringing Together Self-Driving Technologies
Self-driving technology is no longer a science fiction vision of the future. Not only are motor companies years into trials of automated vehicles, but some of the technology used in that testing is already on the roads. Sensors and processors – the core technology of self-driving vehicles – are being incorporated into modern cars through systems such as adaptive cruise control, autonomous emergency braking and collision detection.
Though incredibly useful, these sensors have limitations, including the ability to detect only what’s within a direct line of sight. This can create potentially dangerous situations as the systems fail to detect other vehicles or pedestrians temporarily hidden or outside the sensor’s field of view. Fortunately, advances in technology will allow self-driving systems to “see” more of their environment and even gather information that’s unavailable to human drivers.
Cars That Talk to the World
The key to unlocking this potential is vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communication technology, which is being developed by companies such as Foresight Autonomous Holdings Ltd. (NASDAQ : FRSX ) (TASE:FRSX).
V2X is a system where vehicles not only sense the environment around them but also communicate with it. These systems can sense and communicate with:
- Other vehicles
- Infrastructure such as buildings, roads and traffic lights
- Homes (the car can be connected to a smart home system)
- Networks (gathering and sharing information over cellular networks)
The most immediate use of V2X systems such as Foresight’s Eye-Net comes in providing a car with more information about its surrounding environment. No longer reliant just upon its own sensors, the vehicle can detect hidden hazards, obstacles outside the reach of its own sensors, and upcoming issues hidden around corners and junctions. By doing so, V2X systems offer a complementary layer of protection beyond traditional advanced driver assistance systems and extend protection to road users who are not in direct line of sight.
This ability to see beyond the immediate road ahead means that V2X can do things that a human driver couldn’t. If other vehicles and networks are sharing information about the roads ahead, then the car can plan the smartest route based on current conditions. It can slow down to avoid slamming on the brakes when hitting congestion or better yet find a route to avoid the congestion entirely.
Equipped with sensors and V2X, self-driving vehicles appear to offer three clear benefits:
Safer roads: Better information and the removal of human error could reduce collisions, making the streets safer for drivers, pedestrians and cyclists. V2X can give a car more accurate information about when to apply the brakes in an emergency or when a neighboring lane is clear enough for the car to move into it. In fact, cellular V2X systems such as Eye-Net can be incorporated into regular smartphones and warn road users of potentially dangerous situations on the road.
- A smoother, faster ride: Self-driving cars will automatically space themselves and select a speed that supports the smooth flow of traffic. This removes the irregularities of traffic flow that lie behind congestion, allowing for quicker, smoother traveling.
- Fuel efficiency: This smoother ride, together with the ability to accurately balance fuel consumption against speed, may make for more efficient vehicles that use less fuel, helping both the environment and costs to the driver.
Building a Better System
Though companies such as Foresight are already working on the systems that will make V2X a reality, these companies are dependent upon the quality of the supporting technology and available components. Fortunately, as the number of automated systems in cars increases, other companies have an incentive to support these advances.
Several companies have been developing new sets of microchips to incorporate in V2X systems. The likes of Autotalk, NXP and Qualcomm are producing the sophisticated components that V2X and its sensor systems need. This is likely to reduce costs for these systems, as the market for components becomes more competitive.
Improvements to city infrastructure could also help to make V2X systems more effective. There have been calls for city governments to consider self-driving cars in their urban planning. If public transport, traffic lights, car parks and other elements of the transport network were plugged into a large communication grid of V2X systems, cars could receive a better picture of what is happening across a whole city. This could lead to better traffic flows, less congestion and fewer accidents.
For urban planners to take these requests seriously, V2X has to prove its value in practice. When a sizable number of V2X-equipped cars hit the road, local authorities will likely pay more attention to the impact the systems could have and consider building infrastructure for them.