VW will have pWLAN as standard on most of its vehicles starting 2019

Article by Christian A., on July 3, 2017

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.

Press Release

Volkswagen will enable vehicles to communicate with each other as from 2019

Connectivity between different vehicles as well as between vehicles and transport infrastructure in the vicinity is another important step towards connected motoring that aims to reduce road accidents or minimise their consequences. As from 2019, Volkswagen will therefore start fitting its first models with pWLAN as standard in order to serve as an additional communication technology for the exchange selected information relevant to traffic between cars made by different manufacturers. This will involve information being exchanged both between vehicles (car-to-car), as well as between vehicles and the transport infrastructure (car-to-X)*. This will, for example, enable information about the current traffic situation, accidents and other situations relating to traffic conditions to be shared with the local environment, within a radius of approx. 500 m, even faster than has been possible in the past.

The technology used by Volkswagen is based on the IEEE 802.11p (pWLAN) standard, which the automotive industry has standardised and tested for direct, non-proprietary inter-vehicle communication as well as between vehicles and transport infrastructure and in international markets.

Using this technology, specially developed and validated for the requirements of automotive applications, it is possible to share information about the current traffic situation, warnings or even sensor data with the local environment within a few milliseconds. This extends the vehicle's coverage by several hundred metres, virtually making it possible to look round the corner.

This gives customers an added advantage, as it uses a special frequency band intended for road safety and traffic efficiency. Thanks to the localised nature of data exchanged using this band, no data is stored centrally, meaning that there are no ongoing communications costs and it does not rely on mobile phone network coverage.

The strategy that Volkswagen is pursuing is to include pWLAN technology in the basic specifications of its models as standard, in addition to mobile phone connectivity. "We want to increase road safety with the aid of networked vehicles, and the most efficient way of achieving this is through the rapid roll-out of a common technology", explains Johannes Neft, Head of Vehicle Body Development for the Volkswagen brand: "What matters most is that the technology is used consistently, and by as many manufacturers and partners as possible."

When it is launched in 2019, the system will be based on warnings and information on local traffic risks that arise at short notice.

Within the limits of the system, the new technology is capable of identifying potential traffic hazards. Examples would include a car making an emergency stop or the on-board sensors detecting black ice. Within a few milliseconds, this information can be shared with the local environment, allowing other road users to react to this risky situation appropriately.

As the effectiveness increases through a large number of users, Volkswagen is cooperating with authorities, ministries of transport and other automobile and transport industry partners, working on projects to accelerate the spread of the technology through to its inclusion in serial production. At the same time, joint efforts are being undertaken with the partners to find ways of meeting the high requirements placed on data protection (i.e. the processing of personal data).

Once police forces and emergency services are also equipped with pWLAN technology, it will be possible for drivers to receive advance information on how far away approaching emergency vehicles are and the direction they are travelling in – often long before the vehicle can be heard or seen.

In addition to this, transport infrastructure operators in Germany, the Netherlands and Austria have announced plans to equip trailers used to block off roadworks with pWLAN technology, in order to reduce the risks of rear-end collisions in the area of roadworks on motorways.

In its push towards automated and cooperative driving, Volkswagen is working on enabling other transport infrastructure components (e.g. traffic lights) and other road users to be integrated in future, in order to improve road traffic safety with the aid of pWLAN technology.

Source: VW

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