Why was communication created with visible light

Get communication rolling

Cooperative vehicle systems for the traffic of the future

The vision is well known: optimal traffic conditions, no accidents, no traffic jams - and all this without the annoying involvement of the driver. The digital exchange of information between vehicles - and between vehicles and their environment - should make it possible. All with the aim of significantly improving comfort, efficiency and safety. While the technology was still in its infancy, today it is more concrete and necessary than ever. Autonomous driving is already a reality, the car is increasingly becoming a rolling sensor platform. Communication channels between the independently operating vehicles must be found so that the vision of fluid, safe traffic can become a reality. This is where the work of Jun.-Prof. Dr.-Ing. Christoph Sommer from the Heinz Nixdorf Institute: Since October 2017 the computer scientist has been the head of the “Cooperative Vehicle Systems” specialist group at the University of Paderborn and is concerned with the intelligent traffic of the future.

The connected car: different technologies compete with each other

“Current computer-controlled vehicles are not yet able to communicate properly with each other and also include the infrastructure, i.e. the objects in the vicinity, in their communication,” explains Sommer. "In order to achieve our goal, vehicles must be able to coordinate their actions and at least medium-term plans in a fraction of a second."

A smooth driving maneuver demands a lot from the assistance systems: situations not only have to be observed and evaluated, but in particular information must be exchanged and activities coordinated. And in real time, so that such systems can function at all. “That goes far beyond the connected car,” says the expert, referring to a vehicle equipped with Internet access.

This type of coordination between vehicles is made possible via wireless networks such as WLAN, cellular networks or through visible light. Sommer said: “WLAN is relatively cheap, independent of the infrastructure and easy to implement in the vehicles. However, it is not suitable for all applications. Cellular communications run over radio masts. The problem: good network quality is not available everywhere, keyword dead spot. Without a radio mast, the system is quickly overwhelmed. So it depends on a clever combination of all technologies. "

In any case, there is no lack of hardware in the car: since April this year, every new car has had to have “eCall”. The emergency call system uses an integrated cell phone card - regardless of the provider - to automatically call for help in the event of an accident. WLAN is also already standard for some manufacturers. Research into communication between vehicles with visible light, on the other hand, is still in its infancy. In order to drive the development forward, Sommer cooperates with experts for automotive lighting technology from the Hella company.

Data transfer: time is life

Of central importance - and in the worst case, life-saving - is the speed of the data transfer. Obstacles, such as vehicles that have broken down after a secluded curve or children running onto the street, must be recognized as quickly as possible and their overcoming must be implemented in meaningful actions. “This can only be done by calculating directly in the car - New High German Mobile Edge Computing,” said Sommer. This also reduces the amount of data to be exchanged and privacy is better protected.

"There have been frequencies reserved for a long time, which have been harmonized across Europe - in some cases also with the USA - and are intended to be used exclusively for intelligent driving." However, which radio technology is used on these frequencies is still controversial. It is also unclear which technology mix is ​​most suitable for different use cases. Therefore, the computer scientist takes several approaches into consideration. Sommer works among other things. with realistic traffic simulations of entire cities, which he creates together with his team. Map material for Paderborn, which was created in cooperation with the city, is already available. The data come from measurements of traffic activities, traffic cycles and traffic light phases.

One thing is certain: wireless communication between cars and the environment is rolling. In the future, this will affect not only vehicles of all types - from electric cars to delivery drones - but also developments in smart cities.

Nina Reckendorf, Press and Communication