Last week, I attended the Smart Cities Innovation Summit in Austin, TX. This summit combined the Global City Team Challenge and US Ignite Application Summit to showcase some of the most innovative smart city applications and strategies from over 200 cities worldwide (http://smartcitiesinnovation.com/). I was amazed to see the amount research, development and deployment of computer technology in our cities that is facilitating improvements in automobiles.
During the summit, US Ignite announced 15 charter members of the Smart Gigabit Community. US Ignite is a public-private partnership initially started through a collaboration with the White House and the National Science Foundation with a goal to foster the creation of next generation Internet applications that provide transformative public benefit (see https://www.us-ignite.org). On September 15, 2015, The White House today kicked off the first-ever Smart Cities Week (Sept. 15-18, 2015), announcing new steps in support of a National Smart Cities Initiative. As part of this initiative, the National Science Foundation (NSF) committed nearly $40 million to help intelligently and effectively design, adapt and manage the smart and connected communities of the future.
As part of this initiative, there is critical research looking at smart vehicles and smart and connected communities. The Smart Gigabit Community is a national network of cities operating advanced gigabit speed networks that is part of this initiative. The 15 cities include the communities of Austin, TX, Burlington, VT, Chattanooga, TN, Cleveland, OH, Detroit, MI, Flint, MI, Jackson, TN, Kansas City, MO, Lafayette, LA, Madison, WI, NC Ignite, Phoenix, AZ, Richardson, TX, Utah Ignite, and Urbana-Champaign, IL. I serve as the Smart Gigabit Community Leader for Urbana-Champaign where I am working with a team to develop gigabit applications that provide advanced technology solutions to critical public problems.
One of the problems that has my attention is the dynamic relationship between our cities and vehicle traffic. My colleagues and I working in collaboration with the University of Illinois and the cities of Urbana and Champaign to build and operate a municipal gigabit broadband network. This network serves a one of the Smart Gigabit Community testbeds where researchers and the tech community can develop applications.
In thinking about the traffic needs in Urbana-Champaign, I am deeply interested in finding ways to improve traffic flows and safe vehicle operation. Urbana-Champaign is a mid-sized university town. In the university campus area, there is a high level of dense traffic flows from personal automobiles, pedestrians, mass transit buses, service vehicles, wheelchairs and bicycles. And there are other mobility modes of skateboards, rollerblades, and scooters where the traveler moves frequently in an unpredictable fashion often against traffic laws or just good plain old fashion commonsense.
Given these challenges, it is also an exciting time for the tech industry as it develops very interesting technologies to aid the driver and improve the overall safety experience. Some of the research embeds computing, sensing and control into a cyber-physical environment. With automobiles, aspirations to improve traffic management and traffic flow in heavily congested areas by improving satisfying information needs to decide on where to park, routes to travel (dynamically), enhance the driving experience, improve passenger experience, maximize fuel efficiency and improve safety.
One of the large areas of innovation is in vehicle-to-vehicle communication (V2V). V2V allows a collection of vehicles to talk and interact with each other to create intelligent transport systems connecting cars that adapt to changing traffic and road conditions. The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) explains that by using V2V technology, “vehicles ranging from cars to trucks and buses to trains could one day be able to communicate important safety and mobility information to one another that can help save lives, prevent injuries, ease traffic congestion, and improve the environment” (http://www.safercar.gov/v2v/index.html).
Vehicle-to-Vehicle communication uses technology for cars to broadcast important data wirelessly through ad-hoc networks to other vehicles. Cars broadcast their position, speed, steering-wheel position, brake status and other data to nearby vehicles. The technology by V2V has been under development for more than a decade. Important players in the field include General Motors who is including this technology in its 2017-model Cadillacs (http://www.gmpublicpolicy.com/product/public/us/en/public_policy/issues/technology.html). Other carmakers include Toyota, BMW, Dailer, Honda and Audi. NXP has developed V2V communications to support active safety systems that warn of hazards, collisions, or traffic congestion (http://www.nxp.com/applications/solutions-for-the-iot-and-adas/secure-connected-car-and-adas/adas-autonomous-driving/v2x-communications:V2X-COMMUNICATIONS). Toyota and the University of Michigan have announce an expansion of a test program to operate the largest V2V test sire site that includes vehicle interactions with vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists and motorists (http://www.forbes.com/sites/samabuelsamid/2016/04/13/toyota-and-university-of-michigan-to-expand-worlds-largest-real-world-v2x-communications-test/#4ef2ce9b6361).
Presently, the broad adoption of V2V is on hold in the United States as the industry waits for important public policy decisions. V2V systems use the IEEE 802.11 5.9GHz band which is the same frequency as WiFi. There is a proposal to require all new cars to have Vehicle-to-Vehicle communication systems. This will set common standards for all automakers to use to so that the vehicles talk with each other. There is an additional set of proposals to decide if V2V systems can continue to access radio spectrum. Originally V2V systems were designated to radio spectrum set aside for vehicles. However, it’s the same spectrum as WiFi enabled devices. So V2V systems need to share with mobile devices. This creates scenarios where complicated algorithms are needed to separate the two uses to avoid interference. This is a safety issue for connected cars. Navigant Research predicts that V2V technology will be in 80 million vehicles annually by 2025 and expect to exceed $36 Billion in annual revenue (https://www.navigantresearch.com/research/connected-vehicles). These decisions are expected in the next few months. (See http://www.autonews.com/article/20160515/OEM06/305169918/v2v-rollout-hits-critical-stage).
In thinking more about V2V or V2X (Vehicle-to-Other Objects), there are many interesting opportunities to develop applications that will help manage the interactions with cyclists, joggers and so on. Just think about the high rate of adoption of personal training devices or smartphones with WiFi capabilities that could talk with vehicles or strategically placed sensor embedded in the city environment. The Smart Gigabit Communities will be an important testbed to try out and experiment with new ideas to dynamically facilitate in-motion communication with vehicles and people to improve safety, energy use, and overall quality of life.
Links for previous article series:
(1) Knowledge Management: Digitally Transforming Knowledge into Intelligence
(2) Smart Cities, Data Warehouses, Data Lakes and the Information Management Challenge
(3) Mobile Phones, Location Awareness, and Your Digital Entourage
(4) Thoughts on Tech Trends for 2016
(5) Introducing 3-D Printing Technology
(6) Adding Agility to IT Development
(7) Technology Leading to the Future, Digital Signage
(8) The Bot Economy and Using Artificial Intelligence to Build Stronger Human-Machine Relationships
Written by Jon Gant, LG CNS Blog’s Regular Contributor