More than 1,200 road workers Was killed accidents involving vehicles since 2010. In 2019 alone, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said of the 842 fatalities in the work areas, 135 involved roadside workers.
Audi is trying to do something about this problem. The automaker is one of many working to incorporate a host of new connected convenience and safety features into its upcoming cars. Doing this correctly means performing meticulous testing to make sure the technology performs as well as it sounds, which includes initiatives like Audi’s latest pilot program that looked at the use of new connected technologies to ensure safety. people inside and outside the car.
The key to this type of initiative is Cellular vehicle at all (C-V2X). This wireless connectivity ensures that properly equipped vehicles can deliver meaningful data to other vehicles and to the C-V2X equipped infrastructure. This data could include details of road hazards, how fast to drive to avoid a red light, or even inform cars of an upcoming traffic jam. And that could one day play a role in reducing these fatalities in work areas.
[Related: Audi’s new tech can help you beat red lights]
Connected vehicles as a whole are nothing new. Audi has been equipping its cars with cellular service since 2010, when “revolutionary” simply meant integrating 3G and Google Earth.
Audi’s more modern C-V2X implementations have been in place since the automaker started working with the Virginia Department of Transportation in 2020. Using a combination of 5G cellular radio and the 5.9 GHz wireless band recently reused (which is used to bolster the deployment of C-V2X), the German automaker moved away from closed-aisle testing and moved its new safety pilot to a stretch of road along US Route 50 in Virginia .
Here’s how the technology works: Imagine a driver in Audi’s development vehicle, a C-V2X-compatible Q8 SUV, walking towards a work area while driving. The vehicle’s 5G cellular radio receives indirect communication from a nearby cell tower to the vehicle about the construction area, and an alert displays on the Q8’s dashboard to inform the driver that they are heading. to a construction zone.
When the driver is close enough to the work area, the car switches from communication to the cell tower and instead begins transmitting data on the 5.9 GHz shortwave spectrum directly with the equipment installed on it. the work site. This allows proximity-based alerts to provide the driver with information about their immediate location in the work area, such as instructions on how to follow a new traffic pattern or display a reduced speed limit.
Meanwhile, the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, with which Audi has partnered for its testing, has developed a high-visibility vest that workers can wear with built-in connected technology. If a connected vehicle gets too close to workers while driving in the work area, the vest can alert the wearer to the presence of the car through audible warnings and lights. Likewise, the location of the worker wearing the vest can be sent to the car to display alerts and help detect any impending collision between the motorist and workers.
Audi said that the technology used to connect vehicles to infrastructure is developing rapidly. The automaker estimates that by 2023, more than 5.3 million devices, including vehicles, bikes, work areas, rail crossings and other gadgets, will be able to connect to V2X frequencies. By 2028, he estimates that number will skyrocket to 61 million devices. And as more devices and vehicles embrace this technology, it may one day prove crucial not only to make life easier for the driver behind the wheel, but also to save lives.