Previous attempts at implementing vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) information networks have essentially been relegated to small demonstration areas, often limited to sections of an automaker’s test facility. As such, the National Highway Traffic & Safety Administration’s latest V2V test may be its largest – and most public – to date.
Implemented in partnership with the U.S. Department of Transportation and the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI), NHTSA is rolling out V2V infrastructure along nearly 73 lane-miles of road in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The project is the fruit of a $22 million partnership between the DOT and UMTRI, and will ultimately deploy V2V equipment into some 2800-3000 vehicles, including passenger cars, transit buses, trucks, and so on.
“This is a game-changer for transportation,” said Jim Sayer, associate research scientist at UMTRI. “There are many safety and convenience applications to this, as well as applications related to mobility and sustainability. This is a tremendous opportunity, and we are very excited to be able to support the USDOT’s demonstration of cutting-edge technologies in our community.”
Those technologies are largely hinged upon advanced, short-distance Wi-Fi-based communication networks. In theory, V2V-equipped vehicles can provide both a safety and efficiency benefits. V2V and V2I networks can potentially warn drivers in other V2V-equipped cars of traffic jams, cars running red lights, emergency braking situations, slow traffic around a blind corner, and so on. Conversely, the system can also inform cars of forthcoming signal changes, allowing drivers to adjust speeds in order to avoid endless idling at red lights.
In this case, V2V support will be deployed on Ann Arbor’s busiest corridors. US-23 and M-14, two freeways that essentially form the city’s eastern, northern, and western boundaries, receive traffic monitors at their most congested interchanges. Plymouth-Ann Arbor Road, Geddes Road, and M-17/ Washtenaw Avenue — each a primary route for commuting to- and from downtown Ann Arbor – receive traffic lights with adaptive timing functions. In total, UMTRI has installed infrastructure at 21 signaled intersections, three curves and five freeway points.
UMTRI has also installed transponder systems and video/data collection devices into a number of publicly and privately-owned vehicles. Ford and General Motors –automakers who have developed and tested V2V systems in the past – are both providing a limited-number of V2V-equipped vehicles to the project for use.
What’s next? According to UMTRI, its facilities will monitor and collect data mined from vehicles and the network at large, and provide it to NHTSA and the USDOT as a tool for “informing future regulatory and policy decisions.” That information will also be provided to a number of auto manufacturers “for use in developing additional approaches to vehicle safety and sustainability.”
“This program will help GM determine a timeline for introducing V2V technology on our vehicles, globally, in the second half of this decade,” said Hariharan Krishnan, GM R&D technical fellow for perception and vehicle control systems, in a prepared release. “It will take approximately another five years of market penetration for customers to truly benefit from the technology.”