The internet of cars

March 22, 2010
The internet of cars

( -- An internet of cars promises a road system designed around cooperative technology enabling each element of the traffic system -- cars, drivers, traffic lights, signs -- to cooperate proactively to create a safer, more efficient driving experience. No road rage required.

Your cooperative dashboard flashes a warning: “Emergency vehicle crossing at the next intersection!” You start slowing down. On cue, the lights on your route turn red, simultaneously turning green for a fire engine crossing at the intersection. That fire engine will surf a ‘wave’ of green lights all the way to the blaze further downtown.

As the lights turn green, your display suggests a diversion that will skirt the scene of the accident, avoiding any risk of congestion. You take the suggested turn and your car advises you of a new speed limit.

You slow down and gain some extra 'green miles', bonus points awarded to careful drivers, redeemable against a range of privileges, such as driving in the city centre without charge, or using bus lanes outside rush hour.

The day started more or less as any other. Your mobile phone woke you a little earlier than usual because heavy rain meant traffic was less fluid than usual: the SafeRoute service you subscribe to estimated a 10-minute delay in your normal commute and so sent your mobile an earlier alarm.

Now you are glad for the early start; an unhurried drive is a happy one.

As you make the final turn on the way to work, your cooperative co-pilot reads a message from the car behind you. It’s your colleague, asking if you have time for coffee. Thanks to all the cooperative vehicle-infrastructure systems (CVIS), you are early for work so you catch a quick coffee with your friend.

Cooperative driving

This is a future without road rage, a future of cooperative drivers using cooperative vehicle infrastructure systems. It is the vision of the CVIS project, which is itself part of a broader trend internationally with a focus on Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS).

The USA, Japan and Europe are all thinking of cooperative systems like this, according to Paul Kompfner, Head of Sector, Cooperative Mobility at ERTICO - ITS Europe and coordinator of the CVIS project.

“On every continent, part of the spectrum has been reserved for cooperative systems, 5.9 GHz in the States and Europe, and 5.8 GHz in Japan, so this subset of ITS is certainly coming. Right now, I’d say Europe has something of a lead in technology development and validation across a wide range of test sites,” suggests Kompfner.

Europe also leads on vision, with the development by the CVIS team of an open, state-of-the-art ITS platform which can function on a variety of levels, from in-vehicle and roadside systems to portable devices. It can also evolve over time to take advantage of new technologies and business models.

It is a big vision, and the project has the resources to deliver.

The CVIS project is huge, literally and figuratively. The budget is over €40 million with €20 million coming from the EU, and there are 62 partners, developing several core technologies to create a totally integrated, open-source ‘internet of cars’.

There have been many piecemeal attempts to create a compelling mobile platform for infrastructure-to-car communications, and other efforts for car-to-car, and still other initiatives for mobile ITS and mapping, but except for GPS none have really broken through.

The cooperative vehicle tackles all these issues and many others, and incorporates highly ambitious technical goals, compelling applications and extensive demonstration, validation and exploitation plans - the latter being a particular weakness in many earlier efforts of this kind.

Complete infrastructure

First off, CVIS has developed a complete communications infrastructure, running from hardware, through protocols, standards, middleware, application programming interfaces (APIs) and cross-platform integration.

In communications hardware alone, the CVIS team has developed a platform that can essentially use any known communication infrastructure, including WiFi, WiMAX, broadcast radio, satellite communication, dedicated short-range communications (DSRC), radio frequency identification (RFID), microwave, 3G and even infra-red.

Bolted on to a scalable hardware chain is a massively scalable, open (and partly open-source) software chain. It handles all the different elements of the CVIS framework: traffic management, vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications, floating vehicle data collection, appropriate integration of city traffic networks with public communication networks, and so on.

But it also creates a series of APIs and an open application development suite that will allow third-party software developers and service providers to create applications which run across the CVIS platform - a kind of ‘ITS app store’.

Large-scale trials

Finally, the project tested the combined technologies in many large-scale trials in seven countries and the team has developed a progressive and detailed exploitation plan that should see these technologies adopted and deployed in the short- to medium term.

The project coordinator is ERTICO, a European public-private partnership representing all the stakeholders, including car and traffic system manufacturers, governments, road operators, telecom operators, users and service providers. Every aspect of road use will be impacted by the new internet of cars, and it is set to become the model for how other Intelligent Transport Systems will be developed in the future.

The CVIS project is demonstrating its main applications at the Cooperative Mobility Showcase 2010, Amsterdam, 23-26 March 2010. The general public is welcome and will be able to see some of the cooperative technologies in action.

Explore further: Inter-vehicle communications may save lives

More information: CVIS project -

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not rated yet Mar 22, 2010
Uh Oh, what will there be left for traffic officers, meter maids, wheel clampers, and speed/red light cameras to do?

I'm assuming all this type of information (speeds limits, cameras, where parking spots are available, their cost and any other pertinent information will also be part of the whole civs driving experience).

Cities and towns will need to come up with new, creative ways to separate citizens from their hard-earned cash!
not rated yet Mar 23, 2010
Oh they'll just meter your vehicle and send you a bill. Operational costs they'll call it. And as a bonus they can basically charge you for leaving your driveway.

The upside I actually could see would be if this eventually reduced accident levels so low that people could demand dirt cheap car insurance.
not rated yet Mar 23, 2010
It is too much pain to do these things with cars, roads and other infrastructure. Instead, have you considered Personal Rapid Transit systems (PRT)? They are comparatively very straight forward, simpler and better.
not rated yet Mar 23, 2010
this remains a case of big brother taking hold once again - if we really want fewer accidents with the bonus of less congestion and energy use - make driving a skill again - graduated licencses - teaching the young and the police to drive and understand the rules of the road would do more than all this nanny crap.
not rated yet Mar 23, 2010
I think this is a good idea for urban areas....rural areas should be left for now
not rated yet Mar 23, 2010
I can't wait to hack into it. Making all the traffic lights on my way think that a huge number of cars have been waiting for hours at a red light just as I arrive? Green lights for me all day.

Cypersquatting parking spaces downtown so that everyone else's software will think they are filled and will avoid them - I'll always have parking spaces around town (might as well rent them out, too).

Forcing crashes of cars by inserting phantom vehicles into the system?

The criminal possibilities are endless - and with an open/ubiquitous/homogeneous system like this there is practically no way to prevent clever abuse.
not rated yet Mar 23, 2010
Off-topic rant: Information travelling faster seems to lead to ideas emerging in multiple points, hence, the value of creative thinking decreases constantly. I'm just going to stop having ideas now.

an open/ubiquitous/homogeneous system like this there is practically no way to prevent clever abuse.

Two counter-examples here would be open-source software and Wikipedia.
not rated yet Mar 23, 2010
Plenty of abuses of wikipedia (just check for the constant battles of sites like Scientology or the Seigenthaler biography controversy (look it up on wikipedia))

Open source software is also not immune to abuse (less so than closed source software since you don't have to do any reverse engineering). Open software has just the advantage that it will be fixed faster since more people can look at the problem. FireFox is open source, but there have been plenty of exploits utilised on it over the years.

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