Queensland University of Technology researchers are embarking on Australia’s largest connected vehicle study. This will test emerging technologies that will make our roads, and vehicles safer.
The Ipswich Connected Vehicle Pilot (ICVP) is a large-scale, on-road research study. This study will see as many as 500 vehicles have the C-ITS equipment added and have the ability to ‘talk’ which basically means wirelessly communicate to roadside infrastructure (vehicle to infrastructure or V2I) and centralised traffic management.
If you sign up to be part of the study, you must agree to have Cooperative Intelligent Transport Systems (C-ITS) equipment installed in your car. The equipment includes an antenna mounted on a roof-rack, an in-vehicle communications box placed under the driver’s seat, and a display on the dashboard which will provide the safety warnings to the driver.
The equipment will alert the driver of an upcoming incident that they may need to slow down for, providing more time to respond to an upcoming incident. It is important to know that the C-ITS equipment does not convert your car into an automated or self-driving car, you are still responsible for its operation.
As a participant, you will earn $500 should you successfully complete all aspects of the study. The list of terms and conditions is actually fairly comprehensive, but here’s a summary of the things you have to agree to.
- You’ll also be asked to complete training (online and in person) on the use of the equipment.
- You will be presented with 4 questionaires
- You can not use an automatic car wash as it may damage the equipment.
- Allow the QUT research team and/or technicians to access the C-ITS equipment for data retrieval, inspection, and maintenance, at a mutually agreeable opportunity, if necessary during the ICVP.
- If anyone else drives your car, they must select ‘non-participant’ from the touchscreen.
- You must not to enter a military or high-security facility with the vehicle while the C-ITS equipment is installed, without prior permission from the facility owner.
If your vehicle does not report any data back in 7 consecutive days, you’ll be out of the trial. They are accepting light passenger or commercial vehicles in the trial, but not motorcycles or heavy vehicles.
In terms of the safety warnings you will encounter, they include:
This warning provides drivers with information about the current speed limit.
Red light warning
This warning alerts drivers there is a risk of driving through a red light ahead.
This warning alerts drivers there is a risk they are travelling at an unsafe speed for an upcoming traffic queue.
Turning warning for vulnerable road users
This warning alerts drivers to pedestrians or bicycle riders potentially crossing at an upcoming signalised intersection.
Road hazard warning
This warning alerts drivers that there is a risk they are travelling at an unsafe speed for a hazard up ahead, such as water on the road, road closures, or a crash.
Road works warning
This warning alerts drivers there is a risk they are travelling at an unsafe speed for upcoming road works, giving them time to slow down or change lanes. It also alerts drivers if they exceed the speed limit within the road works.
The trial will last for approximately 9 months, so that $500 doesn’t come easily. The good thing is you basically drive as you normally would, you’re essentially just allowing QUT to access the data about how your car responds.
You can read the full terms and conditions from the ICVP participant information form.
Running a trial like this, of this scale, for this duration is no small feat, which tells us that Queensland is very keen to drive their road toll down to zero. While being a really nice ambition to have, the question I have is around what is the best which approach to achieve this at the fastest rate.
By using V2I, cars may well be able to detect upcoming hazards like road works, red lights, excessive speed and more, the technology that flows from this trial could make a serious reduction in the number of vehicle accidents and fatalities.
Last year, 217 people died on QLD roads, with 109 driver fatalities, 39 passenger fatalities, while 43 motorcyclists and moped riders also lost their lives. 36 deaths involved heavy freight vehicles, while 6 cyclists were killed and 18 pedestrians were also lost. Each one of these deaths are incredible sad and with the right technology suite, completely avoidable.
Using V2I makes a big assumption that automakers can integrate the necessary hardware into their vehicles at a reasonable price and that a lot of roadside infrastructure would get updated (connected traffic lights for example) and maintained.
New safety standards are also slow to reach all vehicles, with Australia’s fleet lifespan (sale through multiple owners until car is retired) somewhere around the 20 year mark.
This means if Australia, or even just QLD had all the V2I infrastructure ready tomorrow, legislated that all new car sales had to include the V2I technology tomorrow, it’d still take 20 years for all cars to have it. So while you’ll reduce the road toll, it’ll a long time to drive it to zero.
While it doesn’t solve the timeframe problem, a different technology approach to the problem is already playing out. Tesla are using computer vision to train cars how to respond to situations seen for the first time. It does this thanks to collective learning from road experiences that occur across the world.
The cars which have the FSD package enabled, are already able to read a traffic light or stop sign and slow to a stop at those intersections, which is much safer than many cars on the road today.
The big advantage that the car has is the cameras are looking in all directions at all times, which means pedestrians and cyclists are all much safer. Lane changes also use the side cameras and ultrasonic sensors to determine if their is adequate space for the lane merge. This means there are no blind spots, the car has infinitely better situational awareness than humans inside the vehicle.
Personally I like Tesla’s approach better and it’s simply a data problem, something they’re addressing with real-world users driving their vehicles millions of km every month.
What many people struggle to understand is how this is possible. Think about when you drive. Even travelling down roads you drive everyday, the lighting, weather, others vehicles, pedestrians etc are all dynamic and different. The thing that allows you to navigate this safely is the body of knowledge you accumulated over years of driving and being driven.
Tesla are able to assemble something very close to this, understanding how to respond based on similar situations driven not just by you, but any Tesla owner. That’s what makes the Tesla approach really different than anything else on the road. As more Tesla’s are sold, the rate of learning will accelerate.