Crashes at intersections account for roughly 20 percent of all traffic-related deaths each year, which is why both automakers and suppliers are determined to create smart intersections that use cutting-edge tech to prevent some (or, ideally, all) of these deaths.
Honda and VW are both working to develop smarter intersections. The two automakers aren't working together, but they both made new announcements about their developments this week. Let's take a look at each and get a better idea of how they work.
Honda and Marysville
Honda has teamed up with the city of Marysville, Ohio, to create intersections that build upon the benefits of cars' onboard sensors. Using vehicle-to-x (V2X) communications and proprietary software, Honda wants the intersections themselves to provide an extra layer of safety to drivers and pedestrians alike.
Here's how it works. Each traffic light at a given intersection has four cameras, which create a bird's-eye-view of the area. Honda's homebrew object-detection software can pick up vehicles, pedestrians, emergency vehicles and other moving objects. If something bears mentioning -- for example, an ambulance or cyclist approaching an intersection -- the system will use dedicated short-range communications to beam a warning to vehicles at that intersection.
The car's connectivity hardware will receive these warnings and, if necessary, provide audio or visual alerts to the driver. Honda's pilot program in Marysville uses dedicated head-up displays that show these warnings, but future cars could have these displays integrated into the dashboard.
Volkswagen, Siemens and Wolfsburg
VW is also working to make intersections smarter, and while it also places the chief focus on safety, it has other benefits in mind, too.
Volkswagen has teamed up with supplier Siemens and the city of Wolfsburg, Germany, for a smart-intersection pilot program. 10 traffic signals will communicate their light phases to connected vehicles, letting them know when a "green wave" is occurring. When timed correctly, successive green lights at intersections can allow a vehicle to coast without stopping, improving efficiency and reducing traffic.
At the same time, VW and Siemens will outfit two additional intersections in Wolfsburg with sensors meant to detect pedestrians and cyclists. This one is less about convenience and more about safety -- similar to Honda's system, VW's smart intersections will attempt to detect pedestrians and cyclists in the intersection and warn nearby vehicles, ideally reducing the chance of a collision.
Both types of smart intersections will use the WLANp (IEEE 802.11p) standard, which is related to the usual type of Wi-Fi that you already use to disseminate dank memes. Able to communicate with vehicles in a 1,500-foot range, Volkswagen hopes that this will become the standard by which smart intersections "talk" to vehicles in the future. Volkswagen announced in February that its Euro-spec vehicles will .
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