Expert Blog

Connected roads will take us to the future

20171128_Connected roads will take us to the future

There’s something exciting happening in Coventry. A group of car manufacturers have recently begun trialling new connected car technology on the city’s roads. Their vehicles are able to communicate not only with each other, but also with traffic lights and other roadside signals.

What kind of features do these connected vehicles have? 

The advanced driver-assistance features these connected cars are testing include:

  • In-Vehicle Signage: Information on road conditions, incidents and congestion are transmitted directly to the car’s dashboard;
  • Green Light Optimal Speed Advisory: Traffic lights ‘tell’ the car when they will turn green, allowing the car to advise the driver how fast to go to avoid red lights;
  • Intersection Priority Management: When two connected cars approach an intersection that doesn’t have traffic lights or priority signs, one is assigned priority and the other told to give way; and
  • ‘Emergency Vehicle Warning’: Fire engines, ambulances and police cars send out alerts to nearby cars, telling drivers to let them through.

It’s not just new technology in the cars that makes these features possible, but new technology on the roads as well. Major upgrades have turned several routes in Coventry into connected roads. This work has been undertaken primarily by two different consortia, both with Government backing – the UK Autodrive project, and the UK Connected Intelligent Transport project.

Who’s involved in these connected vehicle projects?

The current connected vehicle trials by Jaguar Land Rover, Ford and Tata are part of the UK Autodrive project. This group has already tested self-driving pods on the streets of Milton Keynes, and has also just begun trials of driverless Land Rovers in Coventry (with humans in the driving seat as backup, just in case).

Separately ­– though also with the involvement of Jaguar Land Rover – the UK Connected Intelligent Transport project (or ‘CITE’) is creating a 40-mile connected corridor along parts of the M40, M42, A46 and A45, as well as urban roads in Coventry itself. This will allow for more extensive trials of connected and autonomous vehicles in the area, and will test four forms of ‘V2X’ technology for connecting vehicles to the roads and each other: LTE, ITS-G5, Wi-Fi and LTE-V. 

Creating a connected corridor for the UK

But Coventry won’t be the UK’s only test site for connected roads. In the 2016 Budget, the Government announced that it would ‘establish a £15 million “connected corridor” from London to Dover to enable vehicles to communicate wirelessly with infrastructure and potentially other vehicles’.

This project will see all 70 miles of the A2/M2 route turned into connected roads. It’s part of a larger €30 million European Union project called InterCor, which also involves similar trials in France, Belgium and the Netherlands and is due to run until August 2019.

These projects are crucial to the development of connected and autonomous vehicles. As car manufacturers and tech companies work on developing vehicles themselves, they’ll need stretches of connected roads like these to test them out on. And ultimately, when we’re all driving connected cars, we’ll need roads that speak their language.

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