In the near future, vehicles that support 5G connectivity will be able to communicate with other vehicles, traffic cameras and other roadside sensors to warn drivers of hazards, such as nearby pedestrians, bicyclists, or an object in the roadway that might be out of view of the driver.
The technology can greatly increase safety, so automakers are working with telecommunication companies to test the technology in vehicles. The latest partnership is between Verizon and Japan’s Nissan.
Verizon, Nissan’s North America Research and Advanced Engineering team and the Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA) in California have announced the completion of a successful research proof-of-concept that demonstrates how vehicle sensor data and nearby infrastructure can be processed using Verizon’s wireless network and communicated back to vehicles to notify drivers of hazards in near real time.
The CCTA works to plan, fund, and implement innovative transit programs in California to improve mobility.
The trial was conducted by Nissan’s Silicon Valley-based Research and Advanced Engineering team. It used Nissan’s proprietary telematics test platform to process sensor data from the vehicles and infrastructure and send urgent notifications to the driver.
“Making breakthroughs in products and technologies is a core piece of Nissan’s business,” said Maarten Sierhuis, Ph.D., vice president, Nissan Technical Center North America. “The successful development and pilot of this research technology reinforces our commitment to helping keep drivers and passengers safe and the future of mobility.”
The technology being tested is referred to as vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V), vehicle to-infrastructure (V2I) and cellular vehicle-to-everything (C-V2X) communications. It allows vehicles to communicate with other nearby vehicles or with infrastructure such as traffic signals and cameras over low-latency cellular networks.
C-V2X is designed to offer vehicles low-latency direct communications between other vehicles, roadside infrastructure and other road users without a cellular network subscription by operating in the designated 5.9 GHz spectrum.
The tests successfully used C-V2X communication to notify Nissan drivers of vulnerable pedestrians or oncoming traffic emerging from areas that are visually obscured, such as intersections.
Suppose a driver was approaching an intersection with a building on the corner that obscures the road and approaching traffic from the left. Using C-V2X communications technology, the vehicle approaching the intersection can communicate with a camera and receive a warning on the instructment cluster of approaching vehicles or bicyclists that may be out of the line of sight of the driver.
The trials in California tested a variety of vehicle-based and infrastructure-based sensor configurations to create a multi-view picture of potential safety hazards beyond vehicle and driver’s line-of-sight.
The test used Verizon’s 5G Edge mobile edge computing platform with AWS Wavelength and sensor data from Nissan vehicles and nearby infrastructure. The data was then processed at the edge of Verizon’s wireless network to reduce latency and communicated back via a cellular network to the vehicles in near real time. In the vehicles, Nissan’s Intelligent Shared World platform delivered driver notifications on the instrument cluster.
“Communication between vehicles and the environment around them, or C-V2X, will be one of the most important transportation innovations of the connected and autonomous future of driving,” said TJ Fox, Senior Vice President of Industrial IoT and Automotive, Verizon Business. “This proof of concept shows that edge computing with Verizon’s cellular network can help take the resource-intensive compute burden off vehicles and public infrastructure — housing their software platforms and crunching their sensor data for them — and can communicate data outward to prompt potentially lifesaving safety alerts or autonomous driving features in the car, all essentially in real time.”
The next phase of the pilot, the Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA) will validate the technology for its Automated Driving Systems Grant Program, which includes testing it in controlled public environments before a potential live deployment.
German automaker Audi launched a similar C-V2X program in Virginia last year in partnership with Qualcomm and the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT). The aim of the pilot in Virginia was to improve road safety in work and construction zones. The worker wore special vests with built-in Vehicle to Pedestrian (V2P) communications technology that sent a warning to nearby Audi vehicles, which then alerted drivers to their presence.
C-V2X communications operate on the designated 5.9 GHz Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) spectrum that’s been reallocated by the FCC specifically for connected vehicle technologies and advanced driver assist systems (ADAS).
For automakers like Nissan that are planning to add C-V2X communications technology to their vehicles, working with industry partners like Verizon is necessary, as the infrastructure to support advanced C-V2X communications needs to be in place and thoroughly tested before the vehicles are deployed.
The Dutch government’s forensic lab said on Thursday it had decrypted electric automaker Tesla’s driving data vehicle storage system, Reuters reported on Thursday. The data uncovered contains a wealth of information that could be used to investigate serious accidents involving Tesla vehicles.
Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk has been reluctant to share its vehicle data with regulators, especially after crashes involving Tesla’s Autopilot automaker highway driving systems. Tesla’s electric vehicles store detailed data from accidents and other events, which Tesla says is for its own internal data analysis.
The Netherlands Forensic Institute (NFI) said it had “reverse engineered” Tesla’s vehicle data logs to extract the information stored in the vehicles. The NFI said it was “in order to objectively investigate them.”
Dutch lab said it had discovered far more data than investigators had previously been aware of, according to the Reuters report.
The decrypted data collected by the NFI showed Tesla stores detailed information about the operation of Autopilot. In addition, the vehicles also record speed, accelerator pedal position, steering wheel angle and brake pedal usage, and depending on how the vehicle is used, that data can be stored for over a year, according to the Reuters report.
“These data contain a wealth of information for forensic investigators and traffic accident analysts and can help with a criminal investigation after a fatal traffic accident or an accident with injury,” Francis Hoogendijk, a digital investigator at the NFI, said in a statement to Reuters.
The NFI said it investigated a collision involving a Tesla driver using Autopilot after the vehicle in front of it stopped suddenly, resulting in a collision.
The investigation showed the Tesla driver reacted within the expected response time to a warning to resume control of the car, but the NFO said the collision occurred because the Tesla was following the other vehicle too closely in busy traffic while operating on Autopilot.
This brings up the important question of who exactly is at fault, Tesla or the driver for tailgating, explained NFI investigator Aart Spek.
The NFI said Tesla encrypts its coded driving data to keep its technology secure from other manufacturers and protect driver privacy, which is understandable. However, Tesla owners can still request their vehicle data, including camera footage, in the event of an accident.
Tesla was under fire earlier this year from regulators in China about how its treats data collected from its vehicles, including the external cameras used for Tesla’s “Sentry Mode”, which allows Tesla owners to keep taps on their vehicles remotely if someone tries to break in.
In March, the military banned Tesla cars from entering its complexes in China, citing security concerns over cameras in its vehicles. Musk said the Sentry Mode cameras are disabled in the vehicles it sells in China.
To Tesla’s credit, the NFI said that the company had complied with data requests from Dutch authorities, but said Tesla purposefully left out a lot more data that could be useful.
“Tesla however only supplies a specific subset of signals, only the ones requested, for a specific timeframe, whereas the log files contain all the recorded signals,” the NFI’s report said.
By decrypting Tesla’s code, the NFI now knows more about what kind of data the carmaker is storing and for how long, allowing for more detailed data requests, Hoogendijk said.
The NFI said it had obtained data from Tesla models S, Y, X and the mass-market Model 3 and shared the results at a conference of the European Association for Accident Research so that other accident analysts can use it.
Tesla also has remote access to the data, the lab said, which is periodically uploaded from cars and used by the company for product improvements or to fix software errors.
Tesla has been under pressure recently to share more of its vehicle data with investigators in the U.S. In August, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) identified the 12th crash involving a police or fire vehicle while a Tesla driver was using Autopilot.
Shortly afterwards, the NHTSA opened a formal safety probe into Tesla’s Autopilot system in 765,000 U.S. vehicles after a series of crashes. The NHTSA said its investigation “will assess the technologies and methods used to monitor, assist, and enforce the driver’s engagement with the dynamic driving task during Autopilot operation.”
As more vehicles like Tesla’s are coming to market that are capable of storing driver and vehicle data and sending it back to the vehicle manufacturer, additional concerns over how much of this data that automakers are willing, or required, to share will certainly be raised, especially in the event of an accident while using automated driving features.