Research reveals ‘talking’ cars could save lives on the road

Research has found digital communication technologies that allow cars to intelligently interpret surroundings and warn of hazards could reduce vehicle crashes by 78 per cent.

The University of Melbourne undertook this eight month research project which involved a comprehensive analysis of Victorian traffic accident data from 2006-2019 and traffic micro-simulation studies.

Research focused on how intelligent transport system (C-ITS) technologies could help drivers in eight main practices. These included lane guidance, curve speed, collision avoidance, do not pass and blind spot warnings, intersection movement and right turn assistance, plus pedestrian safety messages.

C-ITS vehicle adaptations can include cameras, ultrasonic or wireless sensors, antennas, 3D HD mapping capabilities, GPS, and Lidar which is a light pulsing laser device to accurately measure distances.

Professor Majid Sarvi, Lead of Transport Technologies at the University of Melbourne said, the analysis of Victorian Road Safety data shows that with eight significant connected safety focuses, we have the ability to reduce the incidence of crashes by up to 78 per cent and make vehicle transport safer for all road users.

The team of researchers found that curve speed warnings could have the most significance in rural areas. Motorcyclists were found to derrive the most benefit from curve warnings as data showed curve speed was a factor in 17 per cent of crashes involving motorbikes.

It also found 52 per cent of all fatal accidents occurred in rural Victoria, compared to 37 per cent occurring in urban areas of Melbourne.

Professor Sarvi suggested that some C-ITS technologies would become standard in new cars off the production line, while older vehicles could be retrofitted with aftermarket hardware.

The research also found possibility for traffic reduction. From the micro-simulation experiments researchers found that if 30 per cent of vehicles on the roads during peak hour were connected, congestion could be reduced by up to 11 per cent.

In conducting interviews with industry stakeholders the research team found common challenges across the sector. Stakeholders also broadly agreed that significant standardisation and regulation is needed, along with a unified approach to C-ITS communications adaption.

However, it is expected to take at least a few years for safety enhancing technologyies to become common place in vehicles.

This research was funded by the iMOVE Cooperative Research Centre, University of Melbourne, the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications, and ITS Australia with support from IAG, Intelematics and Transmax.

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