Daimler's largest ever field-test of car-to-X “social networking” system for cars
Daimler's C2X system sees vehicles and traffic infrastructure network linked so they can communicate with each other (Image: Daimler)
With mobile telecommunications technology and social networking revolutionizing the way people communicate, various automakers, including Audi, GM and Daimler, are looking at ways to looking to improve the communications capabilities of vehicles to allows them to easily exchange information with each other and infrastructure to help improve safety, efficiency and driver convenience. Daimler’s effort, called car-to-X (C2X) has now begun its largest ever field trial with 120 network-linked vehicles hitting the roads in Germany’s Rhine-Main region.
Building on technologies emerging from Daimler’s Network on Wheels (NoW) and Fleetnet projects, the C2X system sees a network link included on each vehicle that not only allows these vehicles to share information with each other, but also with traffic infrastructure, such as traffic lights. This is designed to allow drivers to be alerted to potential traffic hazards on the road ahead to give them more time to slow down or take a detour, while traffic light systems can be triggered according to demand as a way to improve traffic flow. The system can also be used for more mundane tasks, such as providing the best route, based on traffic data, to the nearest car park.
The field trial is being conducted as part of the simTD (Safe Intelligent Mobility – test field Germany) research project, which is a collaboration between German car makers, automotive suppliers, communications companies, research institutes and the public sector. The trial, which will continue until the end of the year, is intended to put the C2X system to the test in real-life traffic conditions to determine its suitability for everyday use.
Through its DRIVE C2X project and its involvement in the CAR 2 CAR Communication Consortium (C2C CC), the automaker is also looking to standardization of the system so the technology functions across Europe.
Daimler has been conducting field tests on its C2X system since at least 2006, and research on the system is also currently being carried out at the company’s site in Palo Alto, California. Here, vehicles are being fitted with C2X systems and tests conducted to ensure the system can be adapted to meet the particular requirements of the U.S. market.
About the Author
Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag.
All articles by Darren Quick
Not convinced on the benefits to drivers with this tech... unless its a step towards driverless cars? Other than that, all the benefits seem to be for authorities to know where you are and what driving misdemeanors you just incurred....
Before we have driverless cars we need to have functional augmentation.
When I am in my car the car should know if my blind spots are clear. If there is a deer on the side of the road I can't see, the car should mark it in a HUD. If something is about to move into my path, the car should at least gently start decelerating the car before I mash the brake with my petty human reaction time.
Once cars can perform augmention reliably we can start talking about giving them total control of the driving experience but if the systems tasked with identifying hazards perform poorer than humans in augmentation then they will perform poorer than humans in automation too.
I'm all for adding intelligence to cars but the idea of completely driverless cars scares me.
In engineering design there is a saying: "If it can happen, it will happen." For that sole reason completely driverless road vehicles will only be achieved, if 'achieved' is the correct word for such a state of affairs, when all possible contingencies can be foreseen and the vehicles fully able to contend safely with them.
In the meantime, however, it is possible that a large percentage of vehicle's controls being automated and thus their becoming far easier to drive. Whilst an increased liklihood of falling asleep at the wheel might be the outcome, I am sure that by that time such a eventuallity will be a thing of the past.
Surely driving will be so much nicer when the vehicle will not allow its driver to commit any misdemeanors, or offences as we say this side of the pond, and virtually guarantee that the vehicle is never a danger to its passengers or other vehicles. When that state of affairs comes about, it will be possible to allow a considerable relaxation on drink driving limits so that it will be possible for people to go out for the evening and enjoy a drink or two without having to worry about losing their licence as a result. (I don't mean getting completely intoxicated, but surely not be stone cold sober the way some alcohol limits today leave one feeling.) Cars, if they be needed, should be part of the fun of a night out, not a major headache for at least one member of the party.
Any time software moves or interfaces with a non-trivial amount of metal (read: embedded systems), the first words that should come to your mind are "security risk". Industrial control system manufacturers have proven time and again that they can't be bothered with making certain that your devices are even marginally secure, and that includes vehicles. I wouldn't accept such a feature unless it had undergone multiple rigorous independent verifications and had been developed by a standards group that knew what they were doing. As cars become more automated, you may be taking your life in your hands.
For instance, this could open a wireless attack path into that automatic brake override system Europe is about to start requiring, and an attacker forced you to stop in an intersection. Or they compromise your navigation unit and start sending false driving directions to subtly direct you to another destination.
I think the potential to hack such a system for wrongdoing is very large. A few hundred "dummy" electronics on a street giving out false signals could clear a street and clog others for criminals or a corrupted government. The "Big Brother" potential is huge as well. I don't want fully automated cars to ever be allowed on the roads. Sensors to give humans driving them information are way better, but not without flaws.
Using the desire to drink & party as a reason to develop automated vehicles is lame. We already have this technology in the form of taxi-cabs, buses, or a sober friend tasked with being the driver. You can even hire a driver to drive your vehicle back to your house now.
We really need to fix the traffic signals too. They waste a lot of time and gas and could be so much smarter and efficient.
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