Road safety has risen to the top of the automotive industry’s lists of concerns in recent years. International automotive fatalities, after all, have continued to fluctuate in number with no clear trends suggesting that they’re decreasing as a result of the automotive industry’s manufacturing changes.
Thus comes the implementation of V2V and V2I technologies. Many hope that connected cars, or cars that communicate not only with other vehicles, but with the environment in which they exist, can fill in the gaps of human response time. How so? At this point, it seems the answer lies with a combination of automatic crash notification systems, city-wide communication systems and increased computer awareness.
That said, V2V and V2I vehicles aren’t widely available on the consumer market yet. Right now, only 15,000 vehicles with V2X, or vehicle to source connectivity, have been released. Sources like IHS Market don’t anticipate a broader commercial launch of these types of vehicles until at least 2024.
With that delay in mind, let’s take a look at some of the research developments in the world of V2V and V2I. In developing a more comprehensive understanding of these technologies, drivers will be able to better anticipate what driving on the road will be like in the years to come.
The requirements of V2V and V2I vehicles
V2V and V2I technologies pair well with many automotive manufacturers's ambitions regarding a green future for transportation. The continued research and development of the vehicular electric battery, be it in luxury cars or commercial vehicles, is set to provide a thrumming power source for smart vehicles.
Smart vehicles, however, require smart roads. While automotive manufacturers can move to develop V2X and DSRC technologies, this kind of tech won’t find its footing without the appropriate smart infrastructure in place. This means that entire cities will have to invest in the reconfiguration of public infrastructure if they want to bring the latest automotive technologies into the fold.
The good news is that many cities across the world are already invested in doing just that. Bristol and London were already listed as smart city leaders in the UK. The Smart Cities Asia conference, or SCA, is working to bring together smart road hubs in Vietnam, Korea, and China. Santiago de Chile, along with its other South American sister cities, is also set to start investing in smart technologies to reduce traffic congestion.
The groundwork for V2V and V2I technologies is there, then – so where are developments leading?
International research and development
Development of V2V and V2I technologies has progressed smoothly in countries like Japan, Korea, and China. Japan and Korea, specifically, are anticipating releases of up to 61,000 V2X vehicles by 2021, all of which will be able to interact with 5G infrastructure to keep their drivers safer. China may outpace these markets, though, with a release of 629,000 V2X vehicles come the later months of 2020.
Unfortunately, both the EU and the United States have either delayed or rejected votes that would permit the installation of 5G regulations. This delay means that V2X technologies won't be able to make the online connections they need to share safety data – and that the technologies themselves won’t be able to take to the roads.
Even so, Toyota is moving forward with its exploration of V2X and DSRC technologies. Come 2021, the automotive manufacturer anticipates integrating a 5.9-gigahertz intelligent transport system into the bulk of its automotive line. Through this integration, Toyota and Lexus vehicles will be able to communicate with one another and with applicable – likely privately-owned – infrastructure.
In pursuing this release, Toyota anticipates not only an increased responsiveness in V2X drivers, but a lessening of distracted driving fatalities. After all, if drivers don’t have to use their phones to access maps or reroute their commutes, then they’ll be able to pay more attention to obstacles on the road.
V2X privacy and safety concerns
That said, there may be some validity in the delay surrounding V2X vehicles. Many government officials and consumer drivers believe that the increased connectivity between vehicles, infrastructure, and automotive manufacturers may lead to data sales that would rival those currently undertaken by social media platforms like Facebook.
That lack of privacy is off-putting. Manufacturer-driven solutions to the problem of privacy are also only likely to arise after the first or second lines of V2X vehicles have been debuted.
Beyond concerns about privacy, many manufacturers and government bodies fear that V2X vehicles won’t be able to curb automotive fatalities in a meaningful way. After all, experiments with self-driving vehicles have thus far been middling, at best. Without the guarantee of success, many in-the-know parties may be reluctant to move forward.
Even with bugs to work out, though, V2X does seem to be the way of the future. Be it in the form of smart motorways or green car technologies of the future, drivers will soon be able to experiment with the kind of connectivity early science fiction could only dream about.