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 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.

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!

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. 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.

Our guide to navigating 5G and V2X airwaves

A diverse infrastructure operates along the roads combining 5G mobile networks with vehicle-to-everything (V2X) roadside units and other radio technologies to offer traffic participants safety and efficiency solutions.

We made a short video about these network technologies used in Intelligent Transport Systems. This includes long-range 5G for general infotainment services and short-range V2X messaging for almost real time information sharing. The latter is crucial for life-saving services. 

Everyone is talking about 5G and V2X

Cars use the same 4G or 5G mobile network for long-range connections as mobile phones. We need to keep in mind that these devices are usually considered a distraction. For this reason, some may not think it’s a good idea to build road safety on that.

 

4G and 5G are ideal for distributing general weather news and traffic information. However, it is short-range V2X messages that are essential for safety. These low-latency V2X messages are transmitted in the 5.9 GHz band directly between V2X roadside and on-board units.

The two do not have to be treated completely separately. An interesting connection between the V2X and the 5G infrastructure is that V2X roadside devices may give a helping hand for 5G mobile network operators, providing a space for 5G radio equipment.

The more information sensors and networks provide, the better decisions we can make

This is a huge topic. Fortunately, if you want to find out more you can take a look at our CTO, Laszlo Virag, explaining it all in a recent webinar hosted by ITS America. Laszlo talks us through the present and future of 3GPP mobile network standards, and how mobile phones could fail to work as a pedestrian safety tool. Lastly, he also talks about how data fusion, the combination of 5G, V2X and different sensors can be crucial in road safety.

Commsignia’s devices use pieces of information coming from navigation services like Waze, TomTom, Here, Google Maps, and other pieces from short-range messages delivering information from roadside sensors, cameras and V2X-equipped vehicles. All we need to do is to combine this data in a smart way to provide accurate and timely warnings to traffic participants.

We recommend V2X to ease the effect of hard braking

Let’s face it: we don’t always have a good response time. Even a good, experienced driver can be tired or distracted. Still, when driving, we are responsible for a 2 ton metal monster with wheels. Thankfully, technologies like driver assistant systems help us in traffic and can help avoid accidents.

In an ideal world, cars would be unbreakable. But, there are two methods that can stop the car automatically and safely during unexpected events. Of course the difference in the experience is huge!

Many cars have Forward Collision Warning systems that uses sensors to assess situations and stop the car if necessary. A radar, a lidar or an ultrasound sensor identifies an object on the road, and alerts the brake system to stop immediately. We may have had a near miss, but the cost was serious whiplash.

Life saved, neck tormented

Communicating vehicles have an application called Emergency Electronic Brake Light (EEBL) that broadcasts a warning to other vehicles in case of a hard braking. The receiving vehicle determines the relevance of the incident and, if applicable, warns the driver to avoid an accident. As the driver has been informed of the expected danger earlier, there is sufficient time to gradually decelerate.

The EEBL application is particularly useful when the driver’s line of sight is obstructed by other vehicles or bad weather conditions. But there’s much more! EEBL is a key factor in reducing traffic congestion and air pollution as well. 

According to scientific calculations, a moderately braking vehicle causes a cascade of braking, and the second vehicle behind it has to slam the brake at its physical limits to keep its distance to the previous vehicle. When EEBL sends brake information, other vehicles can avoid a heavy braking maneuver and traffic flows more easily. This reduces energy loss, brake wear, and eliminates the amount of pollutants released into the air during acceleration.

Germany prepares for self driving shuttles

An important bill was passed in the Bundestag last week that allows self driving shuttles – more specifically level 4 autonomous vehicles on public roads, predicting that over time we can really say goodbye to the steering wheel. While personal cars are still not allowed to be driven fully by a computer, self driving shuttles and logistics trucks can drive the streets without a human operator on board. 

Starting in 2022, self-driving in Germany will be geographically limited to certain areas, and the law also contains safeguards. What is particularly interesting from Commsignia’s point of view is that the bill introduces a new legal concept, the technical supervisor. 

Welcome tele-operated driving

According to the bill, a natural person with liabilities related to driving should always be available to deactivate the self-driving vehicle in case of issues. We are talking about a human being who can access, stop and restart the vehicle from a remote location. 

Self-driving fleet operator companies will have to be sure that the vehicles are not only connected to a network, but the operators receive real-time information from the vehicles and they can intervene immediately.

We at Commsignia develop products related to self-driving and vehicle communication. We also have experiences with driverless vehicles: in Las Vegas our V2X roadside units help a robotaxi fleet to navigate the busy streets.

Take a look at our video from Las Vegas, and reach out for our experts for more information.

We recommend V2X for Emergency response vehicle priority

Emergency response vehicle priority, we can all agree, has the potential to save countless lives. There are millions of emergency response vehicles globally, and these must be the fastest vehicles on public roads. I think we can all agree that saving lives is more important than showcasing a high life. Vehicle communication technologies, combined with a smart city infrastructure can give priority to doctors, firefighters and police officers more efficiently than roof mounted flashers and sirens. 

Cities are connecting their traffic lights to central management centers and vehicle-to-everything – V2X – roadside units, so V2X-equipped vehicles can communicate with the infrastructure. This is all we need to do the magic and turn the lights green on the route of an ER unit.

Another advantage of V2X installed in ER vehicles is that it can send warnings to other vehicles. Car manufacturers can decide how to display alerts in the vehicle without distracting drivers. It’s up to the user experience experts to find the perfect combination of sounds and visible signals.

The point is to notify drivers of an approaching ER vehicle before they see it, or hear the sirens.

In the age of always-on digital entertainment, when roaring music from 20 speakers can drown out outside noises, it’s very important to find every opportunity to get the driver’s attention.

We can count on V2X. The technology will be more widespread in the next decade. The Euro NCAP (New Car Assessment Program) will require various V2X features in new vehicles for a top safety rating. (Read our blog post about NCAP’s efforts).

For those who worry that some drivers will take advantage of the opportunities offered by the system can rest assured. Only special vehicles can acquire certificates to influence the infrastructure. Furthermore, all suspicious V2X units are automatically denounced and disconnected from the whole V2X network. 

Our view is that the V2X-based detection of emergency responders is more foolproof, efficient and accurate than a camera-based solution. It doesn’t require human labour, and radio communication requires much less computing power than an intelligent image recognition system.