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Audi's Year-Long Deployment of C-V2X Technology in Virginia Shows Real-World Safety Benefits for Drivers & Roadside Workers

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【Summary】Audi’s year-long deployment of next-generation cellular vehicle-to-everything (C-V2X) technologies in Virginia to help improve safety in highway work zones has yielded a wealth of new insights and safety benefits for drivers, passengers, and vulnerable roadside workers, the automaker announced. C-V2X communications technology allows vehicles to communicate with infrastructure, such as traffic signals, road signs, other nearby vehicles and even pedestrians.

Eric Walz    Nov 02, 2021 4:00 AM PT
Audi's Year-Long Deployment of C-V2X Technology in Virginia Shows Real-World Safety Benefits for Drivers & Roadside Workers

Audi's year-long deployment of next-generation cellular vehicle-to-everything (C-V2X) technologies in Virginia to help improve safety in highway work zones has yielded a wealth of new insights and safety benefits for drivers, passengers, and vulnerable roadside workers, the automaker announced.

The pilot, which launched in Virginia last year, aims to make the state's roads safer using wireless C-V2X communications technology, which allows vehicles to communicate with infrastructure, such as traffic signals, road signs, other nearby vehicles and even pedestrians. 

Audi is an early adopter of vehicle-to-everything (V2X) technology and already offers its "Traffic Light Information" (TLI) service in some cities, which allows Audi vehicles to communicate directly with traffic signals, letting drivers know the status of the traffic light right on the vehicle's instrument cluster. The project in Virginia builds upon Audi's existing Traffic Light Information technology. 

Audi partners in the Virginia project are Commsignia, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., American Tower, Traffic Technology Services (TTS), the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), and the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI).

Over the past 12 months, Audi said the stakeholders gained valuable insights on this technology, including making it commercially viable and scalable for automakers, government agencies and infrastructure providers as it nears production.

The teams in Virginia developed hardware and software that allowed a specially equipped Audi Q8 development vehicle to communicate with a work zone and roadside workers that face dangerous situations on a daily basis by working close to speeding traffic. Using direct vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) or C-V2X communication, a vehicle can receive safety messages every 100 milliseconds.

The road workers wore safety vests equipped with the vehicle-to-pedestrian (V2P) technology, while the Audi Q8 test vehicles were equipped with Qualcomm's C-V2X-based platform to deliver warnings and alerts to drivers and personnel about each other's presence.

The connected roadside units and vehicle on-board units to support the cellular communications add little cost, according to Audi. 

As an example of how the technology works, an Audi Q8 driver might approach a workzone, where indirect LTE cellular signals connect to a nearby tower.  The signal sent back would notify the driver in the instrument cluster that they are entering a work zone. As the driver gets closer to the area, a warning on the dashboard might tell the driver to merge left as traffic narrows using direct C-V2X communication. 

Finally, a direct C-V2X signal could inform a roadside worker if a vehicle is too close, with lights and an audible warning from a smart safety vest developed by VTTI that they are wearing.

The smart vest localizes, monitors, and predicts potential collisions between work zone workers and passing motorists by communicating the workers' locations to passing vehicles, like the Audi Q8 SUV, and proactively warns workers and passing motorists of potential collisions.

Small-8973-C-V2XdeploymentwithAudishowsreal-worldsafetybenefitsfordriversandroadsideworkersonVirginiahighways.jpg

Using C-V2X technology, an Audi driver and road worker are notified of each other's presence for increased safety.

The initial deployment demonstrated C-V2X technologies on the Virginia Connected Corridor and moved to US Highway 50 in Northern Virginia in early 2021, using the newly apportioned frequencies along the 5.9 GHz Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) band. 

The expanding use of C-V2X technology became possible following a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ruling reached in November 2020. In its decision, the FCC agreed to allocate a portion of the 5.9 GHz cellular band for C-V2X communications and advanced driver assist systems (ADAS) applications for the first time. It allows for the exchange of standardized communications between vehicles or between vehicles and roadside infrastructure.

The deployment in Virginia leveraged both standard LTE cellular signals and direct LTE-V2X (PC5) signals, which do not rely on a cellular network. 

Audi anticipates that C-V2X will help vehicles to better communicate with traffic signals, road signs and infrastructure. For autonomous capable vehicles, the C-V2X technology can augment the vehicle's cameras and sensor suite. These vehicles will no longer have to rely solely on visible vehicles and road markings to help drivers navigate more safely.

Audi and its partners see significant opportunities to deploy C-V2X systems nationwide so that vehicle manufacturers, companies that create roadside infrastructure, and local authorities can deliver increased road safety.

In addition to work zone safety, this program yielded "red light violation warnings" to drivers to supplement Audi's Traffic Light Information (TLI) technology that is currently available at more than 22,500 intersections nationwide. 

Developed in conjunction with Traffic Technology Services, Audi's partner in developing TLI, the red light violation warning technology allows the test vehicle to sense when it would need to slow down to avoid running a red light. In future applications, the system could help slow or stop a vehicle to avoid a collision.

Audi and its partners also completed a seperate a cellular vehicle-to-everything (C-V2X) deployment to alert drivers to nearby school buses in Alpharetta, Georgia. The program in Georgia laid the groundwork for integrating the communications technology into future Audi vehicles.

For the C-V2X pilot in Georgia, Audi drivers were alerted when they're entering an active school zone or approaching a school bus that's actively picking up or dropping off children. For the tests, the warnings were sent right to the Audi vehicle's dashboard in real time over a cellular network to warn drivers about the presence of the school bus.

Audi and the Silicon Valley-based Volkswagen Group Innovation and Engineering Center are partnering to develop new solutions for next-generation C-V2X applications for production vehicles. 

Through internal research, as well as publicly available data, Audi estimates there will be 5.3 million vehicles, work zones, railway crossings, bicycles, and other devices that will be able to connect to C-V2X frequencies by 2023. 

By 2028, it is possible that number will increase to 61 million connected devices, including as many as 20,000 crosswalks, 60,000 school zones, 216,000 school buses, and 45 million smartphones.

Audi said it will continue development with its partners for additional use cases for C-V2X technology into 2022 and beyond.

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