Overview: C2X: Social networking for cars

Social networks have become a well-established way for people to exchange information quickly and easily. Now, one of the largest ever field trials of car-to-X communication (C2X) is set to show how this concept can be adapted in order to increase the road safety and efficiency of motor cars.

The four-year trial consists of 120 vehicles that will take to the roads of the Rhine-Main region in and around Frankfurt. Each car has a network link to the others, as well as to the traffic infrastructure, and they will keep each other updated about the current traffic situation. Twenty experimental driver assistance technologies will be tested.

Ford S-Max with C2X communication equipment.

For example, if the tail-end of a traffic jam is hidden behind the crest of a hill, vehicles approaching the problem area can be alerted in good time, allowing the driver to take appropriate action. In situations where drivers have difficulty seeing what’s happening on the road ahead of them, C2X technology can help to prevent pileups — for example, by providing information about an emergency stop to traffic further back, even if the actual brake lights may be hidden.

C2X systems can also do their bit to make traffic more efficient and thus more environmentally friendly: for instance, by helping to control traffic light systems according to demand, optimising traffic flow. In addition, it can offer a range of convenient functions such as suggested routes to the nearest available car park. That makes C2X communication a key element in the technology of the driver assistance and safety systems of the future.

Research project simTD

The aim of this year’s field trial is to test the systems’ suitability for everyday use in real-life traffic conditions. These experiments are part of the simTD research project headed by Daimler AG. (The name simTD stands for ‘Safe Intelligent Mobility — test Germany’.)

‘We are convinced that C2X communication is going to play an important role in the mobility of the future,’ said the overall simTD project leader Dr. Christian Weiß, who is in charge of cooperating systems at Daimler Research and Advance Development. ‘C2X communication allows us to detect objects and hazardous situations far beyond the immediate environment of the vehicle. This is a significant step on the path towards accident-free driving.’

Project simTD (www.simtd.de) is a collaboration between German car makers, automotive suppliers, communications companies, research institutes and the public sector. The project is sponsored and supported by Germany’s Federal Ministries of Economics and Technology (BMWi), Education and Research (BMBF), and Transport, Building and Urban Development (BMVBS), as well as the Federal State of Hessen. For Daimler as a pioneer in the area of vehicle safety, C2X communication and the resulting assistance systems are of enormous importance.

International activities

Daimler is also engaged in C2X communication research in the U.S. At its site in Palo Alto, California, it is fitting C2X systems to vehicles and carrying out tests. Its U.S. research enables Daimler, as a major global car maker, to address the particular requirements of the American market with regard to C2X communication, and to achieve the greatest possible level of technological harmonisation.

In addition to its participation in project simTD and its U.S.-based research, Daimler’s strong support for C2X communication is also evident from its long-standing involvement in other projects in this area. For instance, the Group initiated pivotal research projects such as NoW (Network on Wheels) and Fleetnet, the results of which have been incorporated into the current C2X testing and its standardisation. Also, Daimler is a founding member of the CAR 2 CAR Communication Consortium (C2C CC) and is working towards a harmonisation of this technology across Europe with the project DRIVE C2X.

Technologies being tested as part of the simTD research project include:

  • Electronic Brake Light, which delivers a message from the lead vehicle to a following vehicle if an emergency braking procedure is carried out, even if the incident occurs out-of-sight. Ford is leading the development and integration of this application.
  • Obstacle Warning system, which enables a vehicle to inform other road users of the presence, position and type of potentially hazardous obstacles on the road.
  • Traffic Sign Assistant, which remains in continuous contact with traffic management centres to access up-to-date information on variable speed limits, temporary restrictions and diversions, as well as providing details of current and approaching permanent regulations, such as fixed speed limits and right of way.
  • Public Traffic Management, which provides exact traffic prognosis based on comprehensive information. This includes identifying likely traffic scenarios and their impact at the point in the journey when they are encountered rather than at the point of departure.
  • In-car internet access, which, for example, can enable the driver to reserve and pay for parking en-route.

• There’s more about the technology on the simTD web-site www.simtd.de.

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