We’ve probably all experienced the desire to communicate a few crisp thoughts to fellow road-users – usually concerning their lack of driving ability or parents. Audi’s take on this is rather more public-spirited.
The company believes that intervehicle communication, as well as communication between vehicles and infrastructure, will pave the way for improvements in traffic flow and safety. Practical examples so far include:
*Vehicles equipped with wireless networking can provide advance warning of emergencies.
*Networked, optimised traffic lights help cut stops by as much as 20 per cent, resulting in a significant fuel saving.
Inter-vehicle communication between “smart” cars was highlighted at the second CAR2CAR forum in Germany. Several European car manufacturers and development partners were present to show the benefits of a system that assists and alerts a driver to dangerous situations. It can notify the driver of an icy patch ahead on a rural route, of a broken-down vehicle in front or of an unexpected traffic jam on a highway.
Of course, uniform standards are crucial to the concept, but communication between vehicles of different brands is already fast, precise and reliable, a demonstration at the German testing ground showed. Innovative communication units were installed in an Audi Q7 and an Audi A6 allroad quattro to facilitate the transmission of radio signals in accordance with the CAR2CAR standard.
The system’s advantages were evident: it warned of an approaching emergency vehicle and prevented an accident with a motorcycle at an intersection. Similarly, a construction site hidden around a corner triggered an alert in the driver’s direct field of view. The central driver information system and the Audi MMI – the Multi Media Interface – are designed to present data to the driver in a clear and logical manner. Audible instructions round out the warning system.
Besides its involvement with the CAR2CAR Communication Consortium, Audi is also exploring other national and international projects in the field of road safety and traffic-efficiency, such as the Travolution project, which entails communication between traffic signals and vehicles.
During a pilot experiment in Audi’s home city of Ingolstadt, the timing of 46 traffic lights was optimised. Three of them were equipped with wireless network technology. Calculations provided by the Technical University of Munich, a venture partner, hint at the potential for remarkable efficiency. A 20 per cent reduction in stops at traffic lights and correspondingly improved fuel efficiency – assuming an hourly volume of 1 000 vehicles in Ingolstadt – will save over 700 000 litres of fuel annually.