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Keeping Connected Cars Safe

Connected cars are exciting to the wireless industry and the driving public, but researchers creating systems to enable autonomous vehicles are prioritizing what’s inside connected cars: humans. Keeping human passengers safe is the primary goal of connected vehicles, and with that goal in mind The University of Texas has created a working group called SAVES, which stands for situation aware vehicular engineering systems.

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Sensing, connectivity and data analytics are the three pillars of safety for the connected car, according to UT’s Wireless Networking Communications Group. WNCG has partnered with UT’s Center for Transportation Research to create SAVES, with help from the Texas Department of Transportation.

Professor Robert Heath of UT’s electrical engineering department said autonomous vehicles are seen as a highly strategic area for the wireless industry, as the smartphone market nears saturation in developed markets. He said the wireless carriers also recognize the social value of connected vehicles.

“If you say ‘I’m reducing collisions, I’m making the commute faster,’ that really has an appeal,” said Heath. “So this is being recognized as a strategic area for cellular communications.” Heath said that while network architectures will evolve to support connected cars, wireless infrastructure will not completely give way to direct vehicle-to-vehicle communication. “Even though a lot of times we’re imagining the cars talking to each other, I think there is a big role for infrastructure to play,” Heath said.

Huawei, National Instruments and Toyota ITC are the three initial corporate sponsors of SAVES. National Instruments and The University of Texas are both located in Austin, Texas, and the teams are already working together on a millimeter wave testbed for automated vehicles. The goal of their project is to characterize latency in networks.

Heath said sensing is clearly a cornerstone of vehicular connectivity, and that sensing with multiple perspectives is critical. He said that positioning sensors at high altitudes may be one way to increase safety.

Connectivity, the second pillar of SAVES, requires extremely low latency. Heath pointed out that transmitting a life-saving message could require low bandwidth, but very high speed.

Data analytics is the third pillar. Heath said that infrastructure is needed to collect and analyze data that will increase safety outcomes. He said that if the data can be made available to cities it can be used to manage the network to reduce commute times.

Source: RCR Wireless News