We’ve written recently about the way more and more cars are gaining access to the Internet – either directly or through smartphones. But the Internet isn’t the only way cars can connect to things. The other is ‘Dedicated Short-Range Communications’, or DSRC – the technology that will underpin the next generation of connected cars.
DSRC is the means by which cars can pass large amounts of data very quickly to the other vehicles and infrastructure around them. Big players in both the car industry, such as General Motors, and the software industry, such as Microsoft, are developing so-called ‘vehicle-to-everything’ technology (‘V2X’) using DSRC. This will enable cars to talk to each other, via ‘vehicle-to-vehicle’ (‘V2V’) communication, as well as to traffic lights, cameras and other roadside devices, via ‘vehicle-to-infrastructure’ (‘V2I’).
The proliferation of these truly connected cars will revolutionise the world of motoring. Below, we detail four of the biggest transformations they will bring about.
With V2V technology, a car will know where other vehicles are around it, how fast they are going and what direction they are travelling in. It will be able to warn its driver if other vehicles are too close, or if one is approaching unseen around a blind corner or over the crest of a hill. Where necessary, the car might even swerve or brake automatically to avoid a collision – in a similar way to some of the advanced driver assistance systems already available, which use more limited sensors, rather than DSRC, to detect trouble.
Another benefit of V2V is that emergency vehicles will be able to tell cars where they’re coming from and where they’re going, so that drivers will no longer have to guess how best to ease their passing when they hear sirens.
Less congestion and smoother journeys
V2I communication will allow connected cars to gather information about the roads around them – instantaneously. Real-time data on traffic conditions will help drivers avoid traffic jams, and speed up the flow of vehicles more generally.
And it doesn’t stop there. Traffic lights could effectively tell cars when they are about to change, so that drivers can adjust their speed to hit green ones and avoid having to brake suddenly when they turn red. Geo-markers could even alert cars and their drivers to potholes – allowing them to avoid damaging bumps.
Fleets are increasingly utilising telematics to monitor their vehicles and improve their efficiency. Data about the car and its components is transmitted back to base, where it can be collected, analysed and used productively.
Connected car technology will greatly increase the amount of data that can be amassed, and allow it all to be shared and analysed much more quickly. By way of an example of what this could mean, breakdown companies are developing systems that can predict when cars are likely to fail, enabling them to take preventative action.
The ability of cars to communicate instantly with other cars and road infrastructure will be a crucial part of the world of autonomous motoring. Cars that drive themselves will, of course, need to be able to ‘see’ the roads and vehicles around them – something that will be achieved by a combination of sensors, 5G connections and V2X technology.
Enabling that will be the biggest way connected cars revolutionise our roads – and our lives.