The use of vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) technology running over a 4G network has been successfully trialled in South Australia.
Telstra and Adelaide-based Cohda Wireless, who ran the trial in partnership, said it was a “pivotal first step” in the development of Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X) technology.
V2X involves vehicles communicating with infrastructure like traffic lights and tolls, other vehicles and vulnerable users such as cyclists.
Telstra and Cohda Wireless intend to trial Vehicle-to-Vehicle and Vehicle-to-Vulnerable technologies in South Australia within the coming months.
The vision, the companies said, was the creation of “intelligent transport systems” that would mean more efficient use of road infrastructure, and reduced congestion. The technology would one day assist in autonomous vehicle operation.
Green light on intelligent transport systems
Telstra believes its 4G and future 5G networks play a vital role in accelerating the rollout of intelligent transport systems and V2X applications, making the implementation of the technology cheaper and more efficient.
“While there has been a lot of focus around future transport technology, there has not been much work done to date in Australia on supporting intelligent transport systems via existing 4G mobile networks,” Telstra’s director of technology Andrew Scott said.
“The trial we just completed in South Australia confirms that 4G can support V2I applications. These applications included alerting a driver to roadworks ahead, giving green light priority to high priority vehicles, and testing optimal green light timing where the vehicle is informed of the optimal speed to approach a traffic light so that that they get a green light when they arrive, therefore allowing a more continuous flow of traffic.
“We are particularly excited about the upcoming Vehicle-to-Vulnerable testing as we will be able to showcase the Australian-first sending of standardised intelligent transport systems messages over the 4G network to enable interaction of vehicles with smartphone-equipped bicycles.”
CEO of Cohda Wireless, the company’s former chief engineer Paul Gray said: “There are a number of V2X use cases that can be deployed right now using 4G, and Telstra’s 4G network is ideal for supporting these. We are very pleased to be working with Telstra towards the shared goal of making roads safer, greener, and less congested.”
V2X as standard
V2X technology is set to become a standard feature of vehicles in the future, accelerated by the arrival of ‘connected autonomous vehicles’.
“It's the idea that you not only have sensors on board the vehicle," said Gray, "but you have all the vehicles talking to each other and talking to infrastructure so you can really maximise the benefits you can get from autonomous vehicles.”
Gray predicts that the technology will be mandated for inclusion in new vehicles within the next few years.
A report released late last month by the Australian Driverless Vehicle Initiative estimated that introducing autonomous vehicles in Australia could unlock $95 billion a year in economic value. Telstra, Cohda Wireless and South Australia's Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure are ADVI partners.
Stephen Mullighan, South Australian Minister for Transport and Infrastructure said: “We are positioning South Australia to become a key player in this emerging industry, and by leading efforts to accommodate driverless and autonomous technologies on SA roads, we are pursuing the safety, productivity and mobility benefits of these technologies, as well as new opportunities for our businesses and our economy.”
“Last year we hosted the first on-road trials of autonomous vehicles in the Southern Hemisphere and this year we became the first Australian jurisdiction to legislate to allow further on-road trials.”
Cohda Wireless is also running a project with the NSW government in which 110 trucks will be fitted with their technology so the vehicles can communicate with traffic signals along key freight corridors. If a heavy goods vehicle was approaching a green traffic light, the system would ‘provide more green time’ or change to green to avoid a timely stop and start.
Announcing the project in April, NSW’s Minister for Roads, Duncan Gay noted the technology could be extended to emergency vehicles and buses.
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