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Continental's smart intersection may save lives in Ohio

The automotive equipment supplier will install an "Intelligent Intersection," with sensors to prevent collisions, in Columbus, Ohio.

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Wayne Cunningham Managing Editor / Roadshow
Wayne Cunningham reviews cars and writes about automotive technology for CNET's Roadshow. Prior to the automotive beat, he covered spyware, Web building technologies, and computer hardware. He began covering technology and the Web in 1994 as an editor of The Net magazine.
Wayne Cunningham
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Continental Intelligent Intersection
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Continental Intelligent Intersection

Continental's Intelligent Intersection uses sensors to detect pedestrians and traffic, then informs approaching cars of the current situation.

Continental

If you're approaching an intersection in Columbus, Ohio, your car might know about all the other cars, pedestrians and bicycles ahead long before you do. That knowledge will come courtesy of what automotive equipment supplier Continental calls its Intelligent Intersection concept.

Continental will install sensor pods using camera, radar and lidar at key points around the intersection to detect all manner of traffic attempting to cross, from pedestrians to freight trucks. Cars equipped with new vehicle-to-infrastructure communication technology will receive detailed information about traffic in the intersection, giving them a greater chance of avoiding a collision. 

Columbus won the Smart Cities Challenge last year, so has become a test bed for new technologies that can improve transportation and reduce collisions. Continental chose the city to contribute to this effort.

Intersections offer very dangerous driving situations. The US Department of Transportation states that over 50 percent of all collisions resulting in injury and fatalities occur at intersections. Smart infrastructure technology is a new area of research that uses sensors and transmitters, called V2X, to communicate danger to cars. These dangers include traffic not visible to drivers because of visual obstacles, such as building or other traffic. The technology can either give the driver a warning, or automatically engage braking to prevent a collision.

The Continental intersection concept uses camera, radar and lidar sensors to build a real-time virtual image of traffic, processing the data with a computing technique called sensor fusion. As a car equipped with V2X technology approaches that intersection, it will receive the full traffic situation. Its own onboard computer can then determine if any of the cross-traffic or other intersection users present a danger.

Plans for V2X technology in cars have been in development for years from both manufacturers and government agencies. Although it has potential to reduce collisions and save lives, few companies have implemented it in cars. Cadillac has made it standard in some vehicles, while other companies have announced plans for it in the future. 

Without V2X, cars won't be able to take advantage of smart infrastructure like this Continental concept.

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