Could this mean the end of traffic jams?

Jaguar Land Rover is testing road-based communication technologies that could enable connected cars, both autonomous and with drivers, to receive up to date information about the roads ahead of them, reducing congestion and diverting cars away from incidents.

Jaguar Land Rover is developing a 41 mile ‘living laboratory’ project on UK roads to develop new connected and autonomous vehicle technologies. The 41 miles of roads around Coventry and Solihull will be used to evaluate new systems in real-world driving conditions. It’s the first test route capable of testing both vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure systems on public roads in the UK. The three year project will see new roadside communications equipment installed along the route to test a fleet of up to 100 connected and highly automated cars.

This will enable tests of different communication technologies that could share information at very high speeds between cars, and between cars and roadside infrastructure including traffic lights and overhead gantries.

“This real-life laboratory will allow Jaguar Land Rover’s research team and project partners to test new connected and autonomous vehicle technologies on five different types of roads and junctions,” Dr Wolfgang Epple, director of research at technology at Jaguar Land Rover, said. “The connected and autonomous vehicle features we will be testing will improve road safety, enhance the driving experience, reduce the potential for traffic jams and improve traffic flow. These technologies will also help us meet the increasing customer demand for connected services whilst on the move.”

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These kind of connected technologies will help to develop future intelligent transport systems to help traffic authorities monitor and manage traffic flow by capturing data from all connected vehicles and then provide the driver (whether human or robot) with guidance to optimise the journey.

This would mean that in the future warning messages that currently appear in the gantries over roads could be sent directly to the dashboard – and repeated if necessary. This would have the potential to eventually replace overhead gantries, which cost around £1 million to install.

Part of the testing that the Jaguar Land Rover team are going to be doing will include a range of ‘Over the Horizon’ warning systems. These would inform autonomous vehicles, as well as drivers, helping them react and respond to hazards and changing conditions automatically.

“A well-informed driver is a safer driver, while an autonomous vehicle will need to receive information about the driving environment ahead. The benefits of smarter vehicles communicating with each other and their surroundings include a car sending a warning that it is braking heavily or stopping in a queue of traffic or around a bend,” Dr Epple added. “This will enable an autonomous car to take direct action and respond. Drivers would receive a visual and audible warning that another car is causing a hazard out of sight or over the horizon.”

Jaguar Land Rover’s ‘Emergency Vehicle Warning’ system could also identify that a connected ambulance, fire engine or police car is approaching through the communication systems. This would mean that the driver would receive a warning before flashing lights or sirens are visible and audible.

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Dr Epple said: “The approach of an emergency vehicle can often be stressful for drivers. If we can inform the driver, or the autonomous car, much earlier that an emergency vehicle is approaching, we can ensure that the best decisions are made to move the vehicle out of the way safely and conveniently, to let the emergency vehicle pass by.”

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