Build Safe Streets and Roads for All with V2X solutions

More than ten thousand road fatalities happened at intersections last year in the United States, most of them in urban areas. Speeding and multi-vehicle crashes also greatly contribute to poor road safety.

Some road infrastructure owners have already started to plan and build smart intersections to improve road safety. Now they are getting a huge boost from the Safe Streets and Roads for All (SS4A) program which will provide a total of $5 billion over five years to prevent roadway deaths and serious injuries.

Now you can learn how vehicle-to-everything (V2X) will help these developments with better results. Commsignia offers end-to-end V2X solutions and recommends these 5 steps to build a comprehensive and future-proof system. This will allow you to keep the number of road fatalities and injuries at a permanently low level.

1. Generate more data

Vehicles generate a vast amount of information, and V2X provides real-time access to this valuable data source. Installing V2X on-board units (OBU) on fleets allow operators to be up-to-date with the vehicles’ statuses. 

Smart sensors like cameras, radars and lidar can be integrated with V2X roadside units (RSU) so traffic safety experts will know more about non-connected road users. Pedestrians and two-wheeled vehicles are better protected if infrastructure owners and operators have real-time information on their presence.

2. Connect your assets

Roadside units turn signalized intersections into smart intersections. Traffic light controllers connected to RSUs broadcast accurate status information to road users, so they can choose the right speed to avoid running red lights.

Variable Message Signs display dynamic speed limit and road hazard information for drivers. The same information can be delivered through V2X messages over a much larger area, directly to the vehicles’ dashboard. It will be harder to miss critical information!

3. Use data to plan safe streets

Commsignia Central visualizes data in an easy-to-understand interface. V2X and sensor data help road authorities better understand traffic offenses and conflicts in an area. They can even find situations that almost become accidents. In addition to collecting data, Commsignia Central allows road operators to create and upload V2X messages to the RSUs.

The built-in management tools ensure the continuous operation of the V2x infrastructure by monitoring the roadside equipment.

4. Optimize signal timing for equity

Urban maintenance such as roadside mowing, garbage collection and snow plowing can make drivers impatient. V2X applications allow priority emergency vehicles and publicly owned fleets to request a free pass at signalized intersections. Faster moving fleets create less disruption in traffic and lower the risk of crashes.

V2X can make public transport more predictable and attractive, because buses can catch up with the schedule with a few longer green lights. A similar approach can be taken to promote walking and cycling. After detecting the presence of pedestrians and cyclists, traffic signals can quickly turn green or provide longer crossing time. This will make active mobility more convenient.

5. Prepare the infrastructure for self-driving

Self-driving vehicles can cause fewer accidents than human drivers, but their algorithms need to use huge amounts of data. V2X provides accurate information, therefore self-driving cars make better decisions with less data processing, and they will move faster and safer on the roads.

Details about the SS4A grants can be found on the USDOT website. Find out how to apply in their webinar series covering Action Plan Grants, Implementation Grants and the general overview of this funding opportunity.

For related Commsignia products, please contact [email protected]

How V2X solutions work

Vehicle-to-everything, or V2X solutions connect road users with each other and the infrastructure. International standards ensure that cars, motorcycles, bicycles and roadside equipment from different manufacturers send messages to each other in a language they all understand.

V2X has a range of more than half a mile and does not require a direct line of sight, expanding the space where we perceive other objects in traffic.

Connectivity in the automotive industry

Vehicles generate messages with a V2X software stack. It can run on a dedicated V2X OBU, a retrofitted on-board unit, but car manufacturers usually install it on their own electronic equipment.

V2X is like a heartbeat, vehicles typically send ten messages per second. These messages contain important parameters such as the accurate geographical location, the actual speed, velocity and direction of the vehicle, and the status of brakes and hazard warning lights.

Vehicles receiving V2X messages run applications based on this vast amount of information to display alerts of potential dangers. Messages can be read by all V2X-enabled vehicles, but only the relevant ones are used. In most cases, messages from a car on the other side of the highway are not useful from a safety point of view. Unless the data tells us that the vehicle is going off the road, possibly crossing our path.

Applications are divided into several categories according to their level of complexity.

  • Day 1 applications includes basic awareness solutions, all of which are technically feasible today. These apps provide alerts about traffic jams, accidents, objects on the road, construction zones and poor weather or road conditions. 
  • Some of the more advanced Day 2 applications are still under development or finalization. One of the best-known Day 2 apps is platooning, which coordinates autonomous and cooperative driving of high-speed caravans of trucks to move efficiently.

Road safety applications use a dedicated radio frequency on the 5.9 GHz band, because life-saving V2X solutions require direct connection with low latency. Other information that is less sensitive to response time, such as weather and traffic conditions, can be shared over 4G or 5G connections.

Smart infrastructure

The V2X RSU or roadside unit is an important part of the V2X ecosystem. It has its own processing power, sends and receives messages. An RSU also acts like a hub for roadside sensors: smart cameras, radars and lidars. These sensors are usually installed by the road infrastructure owner to look at the traffic – from a different angle than cars. RSUs play an important role in recognizing the unconnected traffic participants, particularly the vulnerable road users. 

RSUs has the ability to forward traffic data to the Commsignia Central Data and Device Manager software to enable traffic managers visualizing road events on a map. Central can also be used for device maintenance and V2X message creation.

Several elements of traditional road infrastructure can be linked to the RSUs. For example, traffic light controllers can provide signal phase and timing information via V2X for trucks and normal passenger cars. Moreover, first responders, buses and urban maintenance fleets can even request priority at V2X-enabled intersections. In Denver, Colorado, snowplow trucks cross intersections by requesting a green light, causing less disruption to traffic.

V2X solutions are essential for self-driving vehicles, because messages contain more accurate information than the vehicle’s sensors can detect. In Las Vegas, self-driving taxis are receiving traffic light information from Commsignia RSUs to improve decision making and move through intersections faster.

The evolution of V2X solutions

Security in V2X solutions

The whole V2X system is built up in a way to prevent tracking and protect the users’ privacy. The messages don’t contain personally identifiable information.

The messaging is secure, authenticated by digital signatures. No one wants to see information in a car coming from unknown sources, just as we don’t want to receive spam, scam and phishing emails in our inbox. 

Cars have certificates to prove their authenticity. They have thousands of certificates that frequently change to prevent tracking. The whole certification system has been built up in a way that no one entity, no one authority sees the whole picture. Those who roll out the certificates don’t know which car will get those certificates.

Bicycles And E-scooters Are Safer With V2X

Commsignia is strengthening road safety by integrating micromobility, pedestrians and vehicles into smart cities through vehicle-to-everything (V2X) technologies. V2X is the umbrella term for communication solutions that enable road users to see each other, even when they are not clearly visible.

The main cause of bicycle crashes:
drivers don’t see them

Over 75 percent of bicycle road fatalities happen because drives just don’t see smaller vehicles. On-board car sensors help a lot to cover blind spots, but under certain conditions the warnings come late. V2X not only provides a real-time data flow between traffic participants in a wider area, but this technology has the added benefit of seeing through walls.

Users of V2X communicate directly with each other

  • No network coverage is needed for road safety applications
  • Anonymized identifiers ensure data privacy
  • Messages contain essential traffic information such as position, heading and speed of road users

Contextual awareness increases confidence and improves the user experience of micromobility services. V2X safety applications give riders time to prepare for an unexpected situation.

  • vehicle behind’, 
  • ‘hidden vehicle approaching behind the corner’ 

V2X works both ways, providing vehicle drivers alerts about micromobility riders in their blind spot, so they can avoid right and left cross crashes or door hits.

Dedicated for road safety

V2X works on the 5.9 GHz radio frequency, an open band that is dedicated for road safety applications. Commsignia’s provides the necessary IoT hardware and software components to enable V2X on vehicles.

We can also make it possible for unconnected users to be part of the V2X world. Hundreds of smart sensors and cameras installed by cities identify cars, e-scooters, bicycles and pedestrians in the traffic, and Commsignia’s roadside units can generate V2X warnings based on these detections. V2X-enabled vehicles can also receive these notifications. 

Cities are increasingly open to the use of V2X. There’s a wide range of applications at their disposal, such as the ability to adjust traffic lights by detecting vehicles. But the V2X ecosystem have a much greater potential. Vehicle data will help improve the road network in a unique way: fine details such as frequent braking of cars near micromobility road users indicate near-miss incidents which could lead to collisions in heavy traffic, but road managers can intervene before they happen.

Commsignia has been building the V2X ecosystem for more than 10 years with deployments throughout the US and Europe, and OEM deals will bring V2X technologies to millions of cars in the coming years.

How to improve work zone safety with V2X

With more than 150 people killed in road maintenance crashes in a year, it is clear that more needs to be done to improve work zone safety. To mark the National Work Zone Awareness Week, we’d like to raise awareness of how vehicle-to-everything (V2X) can help when people are on the road.

Normally, roadworks are signposted well in advance to give drivers time to slow down. When you get right up to the work area on a minor road, flaggers will stand in your way and show you if you can pass.

This is exactly what happened last week when we were traveling on a mountain road near Boulder Creek, CA. The flagger even waved us to slow down and we couldn’t understand why. Then, about 30 yards later, it became obvious: a man was kneeling down on the road, working right next to our lane.

A similar situation on the motorways is not nearly as safe. You can travel at much higher speeds, and there is no special signalling for the presence of workers.

This is where V2X can help the most

It is essential to involve vulnerable road users in the V2X ecosystem to significantly reduce road fatalities. We have the technology to equip road workers with V2X beacons so that drivers know exactly that there is a man on the road. Cars with on-board V2X can receive the messages and display a warning long before the flagger is in sight.

Accurate information is the key to confident and safe driving, and only V2X can deliver it to vehicles in a timely manner, even when the hazard is out of the driver’s line of sight.

Our newest release:
“The V2X files” video series

We’re premiering a “The V2X files” video series today! Although V2X is a mature technology that has begun to be used worldwide, many of our customers and partners are interested in the details. So we start this new series to show where they can get using Commsignia’s V2X solutions.

The format for the whole series is pretty straightforward: two of our experts sit down in front of the camera in our office and questions pop up on a monitor. The questions are then answered briefly and we move on to the next one.

Since one episode can contain many questions, we marked each question in the timeline of the video. This makes it easier to find any question you might have or even skip over any parts you might already be familiar with.

Nonetheless, we highly recommend you share your questions with us about business models, technologies and the deployments. This helps us answer you in the next episodes. Feel free to do that in the description of the video or even here in the comments section. We will gather up all the questions and group them according to the general theme they belong to. We then create the new episode with the new questions, so stay tuned!

In the first episode, which premieres February 4, at 16:00 CET, we start with easier topics in the first part, but then we quickly get to the question in the title about how V2X will be the ultimate and perhaps the only type of sensor in a city. In the upcoming episodes we will be covering vulnerable road user safety (VRU safety), automotive revenue opportunities, and many other topics. Listen to the V2X-files – the truth is out there, in this and the upcoming videos.

V2X-based toll payment potential revenue source for OEMs

Although tolls cannot be avoided, there is room for improvement in the payment process, and innovations like V2X-based toll payment can make it more convenient, and this can open new revenue opportunities for OEMs.

The global market for electronic toll collection (ETC) systems has grown significantly in the past years. According to forecasts, this will continue for years to come. Global Market Insights predicts 11% annual growth between 2021 and 2027 and identifies urbanization and traffic congestion as one of the major driving forces behind the increasing demand for ETC systems. 

Authorities usually build toll stations with multiple gates to identify vehicles. This is quite expensive and also slows down traffic, since each vehicle has to get in their respective lanes. These ETC systems typically use cameras combined with transponders to enforce payment. It’s far from an optimal solution.

The ETC market is fragmented, and because of this, long-haul trucks, delivery vehicles, and everyone else travelling through state lines or even countries has to carry that many more transponders.

There’s an excellent opportunity for state-of-the-art solutions built on global V2X standards.

Here at Commsignia, we are working to make V2X-based tolling happen. From drivers, to operators and service providers, ETC systems based on standard V2X messaging and security are convenient for everyone. 

In fact, carmakers have already started implementing V2X solutions into their vehicles, so drivers won’t have to buy and install various toll tags. This aligns with the trends in the automotive industry where connectivity is considered to be one of the major revenue drivers for OEMs. Carmakers will be able to offer V2X-based tolling as a comfortable option to car owners.

Last, but certainly not least, V2X roadside units are capable of running a number of V2X applications besides tolling. This allows for a more efficient traffic management so road operators can reduce congestion and increase safety.

Let us know how we can help you with your V2X implementation. We’d love to her about your projects, thoughts, and questions!

Click here to contact us!

V2X has reached major milestones at ITS World Congress

The 2021 ITS World Congress in Hamburg marked the largest event of the intelligent transport industry after the pandemic. It was great to see the ITS community at its full strength in innovations. The Messe halls were packed full of vehicle-to-everything solutions, and several exhibitors even held live demos on the streets with V2X. This shows us the importance of this technology, and also the accelerated pace of its adoption.

V2X achieves a major milestone as Austria and Germany allow communication between cars and infrastructure

Safety solutions for vulnerable road users (VRU) was a key topic for city representatives, and many visitors watched our demonstrations about it. We set up a virtual pedestrian crossing at the Commsignia booth and showed the two ways we solved pedestrian detection: with a smart camera and ultra-wideband positioning. We integrated these sensors into our roadside unit, which broadcast warnings using V2X technology to both drivers and pedestrians. Protection of cyclists was also a popular topic, highlighting the growing popularity of micromobility worldwide.

E-bikes, scooters and other forms of personal transportation are clearly becoming part of V2X. 

We saw the growing presence of telecom companies at ITS, who are boosting the whole V2X ecosystem. All the while, the industry is exploring the benefits and challenges of 5G. V2X infrastructure is evolving at both ends of the communications network. Traditional vendors have introduced Edge computing tools to bring data processing closer to the roads. Furthermore, centralized solutions are becoming popular. In this case as well, there was a focus on data utilization. For this, we presented Commsignia Central, our Device & Data Manager Platform that manages V2X devices at the Qualcomm booth. We presented data visualization and the simple setup for V2X message broadcasting using this system.

Everyone is talking about the monetization of traffic data. For us, it’s not a case of doing it just because we can. Our priority is bringing real public benefits by solving traffic and safety issues.

Commsignia Central also debuted at the ITSWC 2021

The record-setting ITSWC 2021 in Hamburg has shown that the ongoing digitization of transport infrastructure is taking place on an increasing scale. At the same time, urban traffic is changing globally, with electric, shared and increasingly diverse modes of transport gaining ground. Some things will not change though: there is a huge need for efficient traffic management, safety solutions, and Commsignia provides countless solutions for both.

Thousands of smart sensors are waiting for a V2X upgrade

There are thousands of smart sensors along city roads to monitor traffic, and it is worth installing a V2X upgrade to improve road safety. This is especially true for pedestrians and other vulnerable road users.

According to the USDOT, pedestrian fatalities increased by 44% between 2010 and 2019, urging improved safety

The USDOT pedestrian safety action plan mentions V2P (vehicle-to-pedestrian) solutions that sense the environment and relay that information to vehicles. The USDOT also highlights some V2X applications. For example, warning systems for visually impaired pedestrians that alert drivers of their presence at the crosswalk.

Both V2X and smart sensors are proven solutions in transport, and it’s easy to combine them. The traffic sensors are usually already connected to an IT network with built-in cyber security, which is also suitable for V2X. On the other hand, upgrading V2X roadside units with sensors is also simple, it doesn’t require disassembly of the RSU, so we can maintain the hardware and software integrity of the device.

Just as infrared cameras can detect all road users day and night, regardless of size, shape or visibility, V2X upgrades can increase road safety for all road users.

Sensors provide valuable data used in traffic management centers. V2X brings in new, more local possibilities. A roadside unit (RSU) can detect pedestrians and alert other road users immediately. The RSU also sends the data to the traffic centers in the same way. 

Roadside units in such settings broadcast various standardized V2X warnings to road users. For example Pedestrian Safety Messages (PSM) and Cooperative Perception Messages (CPM). V2X-enabled vehicles can process both of these message types. Ultimately, this will give them a more accurate picture of road events. We can even determine the position of VRUs: pedestrians, cyclists, and e-scooters.

On-board driver assistance systems can calculate a better route based on V2X data, so drivers will use only free and safe lanes.

Moreover, an RSU can take control of local traffic, which is a much more sophisticated response to dangerous situations. It is possible to turn traffic lights red to close the intersection, activate a flashing warning, or close the level crossing barrier to avoid accidents. 

The solution is always adapted to the specific situation.  

It is easy to see that a V2X car can play an active role in these events. However, non-V2X vehicles also benefit from V2X-connected sensors through on-board cloud services. These sensors already distribute information about various road events and weather updates. 

Commsignia provides solutions to identify vulnerable road users and predict their movement. This is possible using various types of sensors, including cameras, infrared sensors, lidars and radars. Our goal is to collect and combine overlapping data to get a complete picture of what’s happening on and around the road. This way, road users will have reliable information and can then make better decisions in safety and with confidence.

3 things we learned from recording a live V2X demo event

What did we learn from recording a V2X demo event?

  1. Six to eight people can comfortably fit in an average car for the filming of a demo event: 3 are sitting in the car while the other 3-5 people are there in an online meeting to support the work
  2. International cooperation during a lockdown is absolutely workable with good planning and project management
  3. It’s a challenge to create video documentation of a digital roadside system running in the background when there is only one visible sign of its operation, a warning.

As we approached the finish line of the Secredas project, after 3 years of joint R&D work by our engineers and partners, we had to create video recording – a V2X demo event – of the activities carried out. So we first travelled to Helmond in the Netherlands, where we shot footage for days under the guidance of TNO, our Dutch partner and host.

With consent of local city administration to film or demo event, the test cars raced around an enclosed section of road. Meanwhile, the engineers were busy simulating hacker attacks and taking the necessary countermeasures. Our tanned skin is proof that hard work has been done. We spent the day outside, walking along the picturesque sidewalk dozens of times. The video team recorded us activating our Ultra-wideband and camera-based pedestrian protection solutions.

Everything worked as planned, the warning arrived much earlier than the car speeding toward the pedestrian crossing.

This is just one use case out of more than a dozen we have worked on under Secredas, with partners such as NXP, TNO, Merantix, Canon Research France, Unimore and Siemens. 

The Secredas project focuses on automated driving, to ensure that drivers and passengers can trust self-driving technologies. We were building and developing cybersecurity and safety methods and architectures, for example misbehavior detection solutions to recognize anomalies and improve road safety.

Our second demo was in Modena, Italy, where the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia (shortly: Unimore) hosted our team to have a great time driving around – strictly focusing on our work to do! – with their incredibly cool test cars.

The work-filled part was at least as cool. We had to stop a car in the middle of a roundabout, blocking traffic. Police officers ensured that civilians did not get into the filming area. Here, we were simulating a malfunctioning traffic infrastructure which couldn’t recognize the dangerous event. 

The vehicle’s on-board sensors not only detected the “crashed” vehicle in the middle of the road, but our Onboard Unit (OBU) also issued a warning about the incomplete information coming from the infrastructure.

SECREDAS has received funding from the Electronic Component Systems for European Leadership Joint Undertaking under grant agreement nr.783119. This Joint Undertaking receives support from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme and Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Germany, Finland, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Sweden and Tunisia.

How to protect pedestrians at an intersection

Pedestrians are the most vulnerable road users and thousands of fatal accidents occur every year. People are particularly vulnerable at intersections, which is the most complex part of the road network – here all means of transport can meet. Pedestrians change their trajectory and speed very easily, so it is worth building protection in the most dangerous intersections that can track their movements very accurately.

In our LinkedIn game a couple of weeks ago, we presented four solutions and asked the question:

How would you warn drivers to avoid a possible accident?

One answer we suggested was the use of infrared sensors. It’s a bit old-fashioned, but it still works. When a pedestrian passes through the infrared gate, warning lights turn on. Unfortunately, the installation requires serious preparation, the road may need to be drilled to accommodate the lights, and the pedestrian may bypass the infrared gate.

It’s easier to place cameras and V2X roadside units (RSUs) on a lamppost. We already use cameras in many places, specifically for traffic control purposes. Commsignia roadside units are good accessories for them, as RSUs can get information from cameras about pedestrian movement. Recognition is reliable, and it’s harder to avoid.

Closely related to this topic is the possibility of using radio anchors that help to measure the position of nearby pedestrians. We use ultra-wideband technology, (UWB) to track people at intersections. Pedestrians only need a UWB tag or UWB-supported device, like certain mobile phones or smartwatches. The UWB gateway responsible for the positioning, like cameras, sends data to an RSU, which then sends V2X alerts to vehicles in the area.

These developments are particularly exciting since these are the same sensors and cameras used in cars. The only difference is we install them along the roads. With this technology we can increase safety for all road users, even those not equipped with their own sensors.

We’ve successfully tested both camera and UWB based recognition at intersections in the Secredas project, a huge collaboration between 70 European industrial partners to improve road safety and cybersecurity related technologies.

How about using location data coming from pedestrians’ mobile phones?

Well, that’s a tough question. Anyone can easily turn off location services manually on a mobile phone. Users might want, for example, to reduce the power consumption of their device. The same is true for the internet data connection. We have to take these into account when designing road safety systems based on mobile phones.

There are also tasks to be solved on the network side. A much denser installation is needed to be able to tell your pedestrian position extremely accurately – it only depends on 10 centimeters whether someone is on a sidewalk that shouldn’t trigger unnecessary warnings in cars or is already on the road where a warning can save lives.

You can learn more about our VRU protection solutions by clicking here.