Roads are the undeniable backbone of transportation in any country, and ultimately, they contribute a great deal towards the economy of a nation. With the increase in urbanization and the consequently increased ability of people from all social strata to purchase a car, traffic has increased exponentially in the last few decades.
The effect of traffic congestion due to the increasing number of automobiles on the road is evidence enough of this issue. Traffic congestion costs the US economy $87.2 billion each year. Adding to that, 2.8 gallons of fuel are spent annually by drivers just sitting in traffic.
Given that the proliferation of automobiles on the road is not expected to decrease in coming years, some smart and effective techniques must be put in place to deal with traffic and maintain a high level of safety on the roads.
Vroomm…Connected Vehicles are Here
Finally, after years of interconnected phones, computers, televisions and even cities, connected vehicles are here. As the name clearly suggests, a connected vehicle, just like the Internet, will use vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) capabilities and anonymous information from passengers’ wireless devices relayed through dedicated short-range communications (DSRC) and other wireless transmission media. These connected vehicles will be equipped with wireless connectivity that would enable the driver of the vehicle to have 360 degrees of information about the surroundings – stretching up to 300 meters!
The connectivity of vehicles will be in three directions:
1. Among vehicles to enable crash prevention
2. Between vehicles and government infrastructures to enable safety and mobility
3. Among vehicles, infrastructure, and wireless devices to provide continuous real-time connectivity to all system users.
By doing this, connected vehicles will dramatically improve information about real-time traffic, transit, and parking data, making it easier to manage transportation systems for maximum efficiency and minimum congestion.
Advantages of Connected Vehicles
The advantages of connected vehicles are impressive and numerous. Let’s take a look at some of the awesome benefits of connected vehicles:
1. Prevention of Crashes: Connected vehicles will communicate with similarly equipped vehicles on the road within a range of 300 meters and alert the driver about the proximity of other vehicles, thus giving the driver a better idea of the vehicles around his/her car. There are certain features of this technology that will revolutionize the way we drive on roads; for example, it will give the driver relevant information about oncoming vehicles from the opposite direction, such as when the driver’s line of sight is blocked by a large vehicle (a cargo truck).
2. Weather-related Information: Certain weather conditions (like black ice), which do not appear hazardous, but may prove dangerous later on, will be recorded and transmitted from one vehicle to the other similarly equipped vehicles on the road, as well as government agencies, in order to preemptively warn vehicles about the expected weather conditions on the road they are taking. Furthermore, users can get real-time, credible information about the traffic and weather conditions on the road on their smartphones and laptops before they even undertake the journey. This will help users to better plan their entire trip, reducing congestion and increasing transportation efficiency.
3. Better Mobility: With real-time, anonymous data being collected from such a large pool of users, the mobility of vehicles within cities will be dramatically improved. Users will be notified immediately about any sudden events in some part of the city that could affect the traffic, and will have alternate routes suggested for faster transit.
These are just some of the fundamental advantages that connected vehicles can deliver. In reality, the benefits will be innumerable. This technology could eliminate traffic woes and provide crash warnings, proximity alerts, blind-spot alerts… the list is truly endless.
Here is a video released by the US Department of Transportation (USDOT), which provides a comprehensive overview of the connected vehicle technology.
- U.S. Department of Transportation
- University of Minnesota Center for Transportation Studies
- Operations Research and Financial Engineering (Princeton University)