Volkswagen AG is taking vehicle-to-vehicle communications another step forward as the German carmaker plans to make pWLAN technology (Public Local Area Network) standard on most of its offerings starting 2019. According to the company, the move will make road travel safer and more efficient.
As intended by VW, pWLAN technology will serve as an additional communication technology – as a complement for mobile phone connectivity -- for exchanging certain traffic information between vehicles, even if produced by different carmakers. Thus, the installation of pWLAN technology should allow VW vehicles to exchange information with other vehicles (car to car), or with transport infrastructure (car to X).
pWLAN technology would allow the quick sharing of information – usually achieved within just milliseconds -- about the present traffic situation, or even accidents as well as other traffic conditions with the local environment, with other vehicles or infrastructure within a radius of around 500 meters. Information about the traffic warnings and even sensor data could also be shared with the local environment. By exchanging such important information, travelling on the road could be much safer as it could help reduce accidents or if such cannot be avoided, minimize their effects.
Volkswagen is intending to use a technology derived from the IEEE 802.11p (pWLAN) standard. This wireless networking has already been tested by the auto industry for direct communication between vehicles, and between vehicles and transport infrastructure. This technology allows the sharing of information and communication faster than before – within milliseconds – and effectively extends the usual coverage of a vehicle not by just tens of meters, but hundreds of meters. Not only that, pWLAN should allow vehicles installed with this technology to look beyond the corner, thereby reducing blind spots.
pWLAN technology also offers a number of advantages. Employing a special frequency band, information is exchanged between parties locally, thus there is no need to depend on mobile phone network coverage. Since this setup doesn’t require a central data storage, users don’t have to shoulder any communications cost.
Upon its introduction in 2019, pWLAN will utilize warnings and information on local traffic risks. In fact, it should be able to recognize possible traffic hazards. For instance, when a car’s sensors recognize a possible road hazard or an emergency situation, this information would be shared with the local network as limited by the system. Thus, other drivers travelling on the same road could respond accordingly to the risk.
To make this communication system more effective, there is a need for the technology to be installed in more vehicles and infrastructures. The acceleration of this technology depends on the number of vehicles that use it on the road. Thus, VW wants to help in its spread by making its standard in serial production.