Ford trialling connected cars to warn drivers about hazards

Ford has developed a prototype communications system for cars that can alert drivers to hazards and road blockages in real time.

Working with researchers at St. Petersburg State Polytechnic University, the manufacturer developed a system that allows data to be shared on an ad-hoc basis.

The new system is designed to combat the unreliability of data transmission in moving vehicles through dynamically shifting access to the cloud via the most reliable transmission method - cellular, Wi-Fi and communication with other vehicles.

The team looked at sharing critical information regarding a road emergency with drivers in an area that has poor connectivity.

The researchers cited a scenario where a car entering a tunnel encounters black ice and needs to send a signal noting the slippery conditions to other vehicles. There is no cellular reception or Wi-Fi hot spot, but another car leaving the tunnel in the opposite direction has both vehicle-to-vehicle and a cellular connection.

The intelligent connectivity manager selects the second car’s vehicle-to-vehicle channel to deliver information gathered from the first car to the cloud so that it can then transmit a warning to other drivers of the dangerous conditions at the tunnel entrance.

If no other cars are around, the connectivity manager would postpone sending the message until the first car leaves the tunnel and a cellular network becomes available.

“The challenge of creating a robust wireless communications network is shared between the space and automotive industries,” said Oleg Gusikhin, technical leader, Advanced Connected Services, Ford Research & Advanced Engineering. “These first results are very promising in terms of offering more reliable communications technology for the future of connected vehicles.”

Vladimir Zaborovsky, who heads up telematics for St. Petersburg State Polytechnic University, is pleased with the findings of the project. “The developed solutions are of high reliability, scalability and adaptability and they open broad prospects for application – both in transportation logistics and in space robotics,” he said. “We’re looking forward to further collaborating with our colleagues from Ford.”

The project will be finalised by the end of the year and the results could be integrated into Ford production programs – including vehicle-to-vehicle communication, the delivery of emergency messages and over-the-air software updates.

The researchers have also applied the technology to a series of experiments in space where Cosmonauts aboard the International Space Station used a joystick to control a robot based on Earth amidst noisy conditions, operating signal time delays and equipment failures.

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