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Volvo Pilot Poses the Question: Who Needs V2V When You Have LTE?

by Roger Lanctot | Mar 28, 2014

Volvo is commencing a test of existing wireless networks to communicate road conditions.  The brilliance of Volvo's strategy lies in its simplicity - using existing on-board vehicle connections to enhance safety for all drivers - and in the process stealing a march on the V2V community, determined as it is to have a dedicated module using dedicated spectrum to perform such tasks.

This analyst has long sought inclusion of LTE technology and smartphones in V2V tests to contrast and compare the performance of wireless network technology against purpose-built devices.  Volvo Car Group (Volvo Cars), the Swedish Transport Administration (Trafikverket) and the Norwegian Public Roads Administration (Statens Vegvesen) are joining forces in the pilot project in which road friction information from individual cars will be  shared within a cloud-based system.

The parties to the test envision real-time data about slippery patches on the road being shared with other drivers and road authorities with the intent of enhancing safety.  Of course, with the proliferation of on-board cameras and embedded wireless connections, the potential to extend the pilot to hyper-local weather analysis, wet road surface reporting and other related applications are glaringly obvious.

According to contacts at the U.S. Department of Transportation, as much as 70% of road accidents occur when roads are wet. One of the greatest challenges in managing traffic is the acquisition of hyper-local data.  There is no doubt that Volvo executives are aware that they are on to something - that tracking slick roads is only the beginning.

On-board cameras tied to historical traffic data could be triggered to transmit images to off-board services at any time real-time driving conditions are out of sync with historical expectations - jams when there should be free flow or free flow when there should be a jam.  Multiple organizations are seeking to tap into fleet resources and fixed traffic cameras to get more accurate assessments of hyper-local traffic.

Rather than wait for some pie-in-the-sky V2V mandate, Volvo is taking the challenge of enhancing road safety to the crowd and the cloud leveraging on-board connections to communicate conditions to other drivers and traffic authorities.  The brilliance of this plan will no doubt be widely embraced across the industry - perhaps even for connected smartphones in cars.  We look forward to the results of the pilot.

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