Honda, VW are hard at work making intersections smarter

They aren't working together, but both automakers have the same goals in mind.

Andrew Krok Reviews Editor / Cars
Cars are Andrew's jam, as is strawberry. After spending years as a regular ol' car fanatic, he started working his way through the echelons of the automotive industry, starting out as social-media director of a small European-focused garage outside of Chicago. From there, he moved to the editorial side, penning several written features in Total 911 Magazine before becoming a full-time auto writer, first for a local Chicago outlet and then for CNET Cars.
Andrew Krok
2 min read

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.

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 program in Marysville uses dedicated head-up displays that show these warnings, but future cars could have these displays integrated into the dashboard.

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Honda's developmental HUD could probably be integrated into the dashboard, so you don't have to have some clunky thing taking up precious dash space.


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 adopt this communication protocol as standard equipment by 2019

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Like Honda, VW's smart-intersection system hopes to pick up where traditional vehicle sensors leave off.


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