How your car will talk to the world – and make it safer

  • New technology aims to make the roads safer...
  • ...but should also help ease congestion
  • Find out what car-to-car and car-to-X communication is

Do you find when driving to work the traffic lights are always against you? That could soon be a thing of the past thanks to new technology that will allow your car to ‘talk’, not only to other cars – known as car-to-car communication - but also to road infrastructure using so-called car-to-X.

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Set to be introduced to new cars from 2019, this means your car will be able to more effectively guide you on a route using real-time traffic information from other vehicles similarly equipped.

For instance, if a car locks up its wheels on a slippery surface or performs an extreme emergency stop, it will almost instantaneously broadcast that fact to surrounding vehicles, thus warning of a problem in the vicinity.

Once emergency services equip their vehicles with the technology, they will also be able to send out a warning to surrounding motorists long before they can see or hear them, giving valuable advanced warning on the proximity and direction of the police car, ambulance or fire engine so early action can be taken.

It works using a networking technology known as pWLAN (public Wireless Local Area Network), which allows signals to be sent and received within a radius of approximately 500 metres. It doesn’t require the mobile network to operate, instead using its own private wavelength to avoid the messages clogging up the system.

Volkswagen has recently announced it will begin installation of this technology on its models in 2019, with the aim that it’s included in standard specifications along with mobile phone connectivity across the board. It hopes it will also proliferate other manufacturers’ ranges.

‘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.’

Sources at VW can’t confirm which of its models will be equipped with the pWLAN set-up first. What is clear is that it'll integrate very well with forthcoming autonomous driving systems developed for driverless cars

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