According to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), “Rear-end crashes kill about 1,700 people every year and injure half a million more. More than 80% of these deaths and injuries might have been mitigated had the vehicles been equipped with a collision avoidance system.”

A Con-way study of its fleet supports the NHTSA data. Con-way drivers operating truck-tractors equipped with safety systems showed a lower crash rate and a decline in risky driving behavior. The study showed a 71% decline in rear-end collisions and a 63% decline in unsafe following behaviors.

Safety concerns have led to a strong push around the world for more rapid uptake of connected car technologies, especially in the area of collision avoidance. These technologies are part of the larger class of developments referred to as intelligent transport systems (ITS), which cover everything from car navigation and parking guidance to bridge de-icing and container management.

In a new report, “The Use of Forward Collision Avoidance Systems to Prevent and Mitigate Rear-End Crashes,” the NTSB recommends that manufacturers make collision avoidance systems standard equipment in new vehicles, beginning with collision warning systems, and, once the standards are finalized, autonomous emergency braking. According to the report, “Slow and insufficient action on the part of the NHTSA to develop performance standards for these technologies and require them in passenger and commercial vehicles, as well as a lack of incentives for manufacturers, has contributed to the ongoing and unacceptable frequency of rear-end crashes.”

Intelligent Transport Systems / Connected Car Technologies

The primary goal of collision avoidance technology is to prevent crashes by detecting a conflict and alerting the driver, and, in many systems, aiding in brake application or automatic application of the brakes. As shown in Figure 1, a complete collision avoidance system includes the collision warning system (CWS), dynamic brake support (DBS), and autonomous brakes (AEB). In commercial systems, the DBS is limited or absent.

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Figure 1. Components of a collision avoidance system. Source: “The Use of Forward Collision Avoidance Systems to Prevent and Mitigate Rear-End Crashes.”

A typical collision avoidance system uses LIDAR, radar, or cameras to monitor the driving environment. When a conflict is detected, warning cues alert the driver. If the conflict persists, the system initiates AEB or provides additional braking force if the driver response too slowly or not strongly enough.

Standards Development

There are a lot of moving pieces in this industry (pun intended J ) So where do things stand in terms of connected vehicle standards? A variety of efforts have been in the works from a number of organizations for 10+ years. Recent developments include integrating commercial vehicles into the ITS framework and some interesting work by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).

The ISO 15638 series “Telematics Applications for Regulated commercial Vehicles (TARV)” standards are based on the same secure communications that are used for cooperative intelligent transport systems (C-ITS). This technology uses the 2G/3G mobile technology already installed for today’s fleet management systems. It also can use the 5.8 GHz technology used for electronic toll collection, and it can migrate to LTE/4G communications or use the new dedicated 5.9 GHz technology being developed for C-ITS.

Recognizing increased consumer demand for data and services in connected cars, W3C has launched a new automotive industry collaboration to bring drivers and passengers a better Web experience. The effort will focus initially on giving application vendors standard and more secure access to vehicle data.

ISO is the most active standards organization in this area. For a preview of what the new connected car driving experience will look like, they have created this fun, interactive infographic that includes references to the relevant standards:


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