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. https://secredas-project.eu/

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.