Honda Safe Swarm V2X Tech Looks DSRC Facing

Honda returns to CES next year to showcase its latest advances on V2X communications that works without cellular communication technology.

The Honda Safe Swarm is the carmaker’s vision of vehicles communicating with their environment paving the way to full autonomy. However, despite the increasingly shrill noise coming from telecoms giants, its system ignores cellular communication technology and, instead, relies on on-board sensor technology.

While Ted Klaus, of Honda R&D Americas, told the 2018 AutoMobility LA show in November that the carmaker remains “agnostic” in the battle between 5G and DSRC, it’s clear the on-board Safe Swarm technology looks more geared to the latter rather than the former. It also adds credence to the European Union’s likely decision to advance moves towards DSRC without involving 5G in V2X and in line with the preferences of the two biggest automakers Volkswagen and Toyota who see DSRC as a more robust technology than cellular that remains currently unreliable as an automotive solution.

Its bespoke in-house technology is hoping to allow full V2V and V2X communication sharing key information such as location and speed. With this data, coupled with the vehicle’s own array of sensors, the driver or automated vehicle systems could be able to determine the safest course of action in merging with traffic or avoiding a road hazard.

Honda’s concept is aimed at cutting accidents and preventing potential traffic snarl-ups by taking early braking action avoiding the ripple effect on highways of emergency braking that, ultimately, will see queues of traffic ground to a halt. Safe Swarm claims to achieve this through an on-board system with V2X communication, as well as the existing sensors on the vehicle and sensors built into street infrastructure, such as DSRC technology.

Following on from the concept’s initial launch at CES 2017, Honda says it has been conducting closed course testing and will next evaluate the concept in a real-world environment on the 33 Smart Mobility Corridor in Ohio, planned to become the longest stretch of continuously connected vehicle-to-infrastructure roadway in the world. To accelerate testing, the automaker is seeking research and development partners, particularly businesses involved in the field of Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) and Connected and Automated Vehicle (CAV).

In a statement, Nick Sugimoto, Honda Innovations CEO, said: “Honda is seeking new partners who want to join us in the development and user testing of our technology concepts, and CES provides a vast B2B marketplace to explore collaboration opportunities. Through open innovation Honda can create new value for mobility, accommodate people’s different lifestyles, and advance our vision toward a more enjoyable and collision-free society.”

Honda will also show real-world testing scenarios of its Autonomous Work Vehicle (pictured), a prototype off-road vehicle that is a combination of Honda’s all-terrain vehicle (ATV) and emerging advanced autonomous technology. It was designed for applications such as such as construction, agriculture, search and rescue and firefighting. It is based on Honda’s proven ATV chassis, which has a 30-year history of accessing hard-to-reach locations with its rugged four-wheel drive system. The vehicle features GPS and sensor-based autonomy capable of guiding the unit in almost any environment; a rail accessory mount system for limitless accessories and attachments; and on-board power plug-ins. Since its debut at CES 2018 under the name 3E-D18, Honda has worked with partners to beta-test and evaluate use cases in a broad array of work environments, including a large-scale solar operations company in North Carolina, a wildland firefighting division in Colorado, and an agricultural and environmental sciences college in California.

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in London. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_

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