Connected vehicle technology is a wireless-based system which enables vehicles to communicate with each other as well as infrastructure such as traffic lights.
They can communicate through devices which are installed on-board the vehicle which receives warning signals ahead of time about road closures, accidents, weather conditions and other potential hazards. Connected vehicle technology aims to enable safe, interoperable wireless network communications between vehicles (vehicle-to-vehicle – V2V), the infrastructure (vehicle-to-infrastructure – V2I) and personal devices (vehicle-to-device – V2X).
With the potential capabilities of this technology we can hope for a safer, smarter and greener road transport industry. The vision for connected vehicle technology is to transform and modernise road transport systems to create a future where:
• Road traffic accidents and fatalities as a result are dramatically reduced
• Traffic managers being able to access data so they can accurately review transport system performance and actively manage the system in real-time, for optimal performance
• Drivers have access to accurate, up to date travel information about route options and the potential cost and environmental impact of those options
• Vehicles can communicate with traffic signals to eliminate unnecessary stops and help drivers operate the vehicle for optimal fuel-efficiency.
Connected vehicle technology can help the transport industry tackle some of its biggest issues including:
• Safety. In 2014 there were 268,527 vehicles involved in road accidents which resulted in 1,775 reported deaths and 194,477 injuries. Connected vehicle technology has the potential to significantly reduce road accidents and as a result save lives through connected vehicle crash prevention systems. Safety applications would allow for 360 degree awareness around the vehicle to alert the driver to any potential hazards they possibly couldn’t see. These applications have the potential to prevent accidents through alerts and warnings. For example a driver may be alerted of school zone, a pot hole or a slippery area of the road and could be warned in more immediate crash situations such as merging traffic or if the vehicle in front brakes suddenly. Vehicles could be warned of cyclists and pedestrians which would enhance safety for these methods of transport, it would also be beneficial to HGV drivers to be warned of potential cyclists/pedestrians in their blind spots.
• Mobility. In 2014 UK drivers spent on average three working weeks of their lives stuck in traffic with journeys taking 29 per cent longer than they would’ve in free-flowing traffic. The overall cost to the UK economy in 2014 was £13 billion, 37 per cent of which was indirect costs from higher transport cost and business fees from company vehicles idling in traffic which is then passed on to the consumer. Connected vehicle mobility systems will enable drivers and operators to make route choices which will reduce their journey time. Mobility applications are designed to provide a connected, data-enriched transport environment based on information transmitted from thousands of connected vehicles that are using the system at the same time. This data could help transport managers monitor and manage their transport system performance. For example, managing driver routes and utilising resources as efficiently as possible.
• Environment. In 2014 eco-unfriendly driving habits cost the UK motorist £700 million. With connected vehicle environmental applications drivers will be able to make decisions which improves their efficiency behind the wheel resulting in lower cost to the motorist and a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions. With real-time information about traffic congestion and road conditions this will help drivers and transport managers make more informed decisions that can reduce the impact on the environment and cut costs. Informed drivers will have the opportunity to avoid congested areas by taking alternative routes or public transport, or by rescheduling their journey, all of which can make the journey more fuel efficient and better on the environment. The ability for vehicles to communicate with traffic infrastructure could provide information to the driver so they can drive through traffic signals at optimum speeds to reduce stopping.
Although connected vehicles are still some way off the potential for the technology is huge and could reduce road accident fatalities, reduce travel delay and reduce vehicle emissions. On top of that are the potential savings that could be made by the road transport industry on deliveries which could result in lower costs being passed on to the consumer.
☛ Richard Newbold is founder of Returnloads.net and has spent 30 years in the transport and logistics industry