New Roadside Comms System Will Revolutionise Vehicle To Roadside Communications For Car Drivers

Scottish drivers know the frustrations of traffic jams, especially over busy Bank Holiday weekends, while there are roadworks or during the Edinburgh festival. Now, a new sensor device / roadside comms system which will give car drivers access to both traffic reports and entertainment via high speed internet access and alerts them to traffic travelling in front and behind them is being developed by UK businesses with support from the dti.

This is being developed as part of the joint industry, education and Government SLIMSENS research project, part of the SMMT led Foresight Vehicle programme. This programme aims to maintain Britain’s position as one of the high technology leaders in automotive design and development.

The UK businesses involved include UK aerospace and defence giant BAE Systems as well as e2v technologies and L.E.W. Techniques - two British companies with extensive microwave and sensor technology - and the University of Birmingham’s Department of Electronic, Electrical and Computer Engineering. Jaguar Cars are acting as advisers to the project.

The new module is being designed to be small, light and affordable and unlike other in-car satellite navigation systems, it is believed to be the first in the world to combine both radar and telematics. Manufacture of the first prototypes will start later this year and will be followed by testing in 2006.

The system is broken down into three main sections:

1) Pencil beam radar, comprising 3 to 5 very narrow radar beams which point out in front of the vehicle (a second module may be used for rear coverage) detecting other vehicles’ range, speed and direction. This sensor relays information instantly for use in anti-collision and adaptive cruise control systems.

2) Radar cloud, this is essentially a short range radar blob surrounding the front of the car and will detect things like pedestrians and will prepare the car for a potential emergency stop. It will allow automatic stop/go operation of the vehicle.

3) Car to road side comms, which uses the 63 GHz band which enables a very high band width communications link with roadside beacons. The roadside beacons will be placed every kilometre or less depending on road conditions. This means that high data rates can be maintained in even the heaviest of traffic providing reliable on demand or real-time in car video and high speed internet access. This will allow vehicle drivers and passengers to receive traffic information, web-browsing on the move, online shopping and even video-conferencing.

The project will also investigate ‘smart reflectors’ which allow future car radar systems to identify road signs, distinguish large bridges from articulated lorries and even traffic cones when they are installed.

"The new technology will revolutionise vehicle-to-roadside communications and speed vital road traffic information, allowing drivers to avoid congestion points and thereby minimise traffic jams and reduce emissions," said Waseem Qureshi from BAE Systems’ Advanced Technology Centre. "Ultimately, the combined broadband and radar systems which the Foresight Vehicle programme is looking to develop will be able to take control of vehicles joining and leaving major road networks and even allow automated hands-free convoy driving on motorways."

Nigel Priestley of e2v Technologies, the company leading the Foresight Vehicle programme said: "A key objective of the research is to reduce the size and cost of the ‘new wave’ technologies by packaging them into a single unit to allow fitment to any motor vehicle. The benefits will be felt throughout the British car industry from component suppliers to manufacturers and we anticipate that around 80% of the systems finally produced will go to export markets in Japan, Europe and the USA."

27 August 2005 Staff

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