Q&A: For V2V Telematics, “Seeing is believing”

Q&A: For V2V Telematics, “Seeing is believing”

After much discussion about the safety, efficiency, and other benefits of vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) technology, a number of driver-warning features derived from V2V and V2X technology are now being tested in “driver acceptance clinics” around the United States. The Safety Pilot, conducted by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA) and Crash Avoidance Metrics Partnership (CAMP), is designed to examine how humans respond to these new sorts of alerts.Findings from the US Safety Pilot are not yet available, but Telematics Update spoke with Roger Berg, vice president of Wireless Technologies at DENSO International America, Inc., who is responsible for DENSO’s research and development of V2V and V2X technology for the United States Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) Connected Vehicle program and is chair of the Intelligent Transportation Society of America’s Connected Vehicle Task Force, about how to enhance consumer comfort around this new technology.

TU: Helping drivers feel comfortable in V2V-equipped cars seems to be a major component of deploying this technology successfully. Is that accurate?

Roger Berg: Yes. In the early stages, this technology is targeted at providing 360-degree situational awareness to the driver, so naturally getting drivers comfortable with this new “sixth sense” is incredibly important. 

TU: Why is this a challenge?

RB: The driver will be responsible for their own reaction to an alert provided by the V2X equipment in the vehicle. In some cases, this may appear unnatural. For example, the V2X device could alert the driver that stopped cars are present around a corner in the road ahead behind a hedgerow, or that a car or truck is about to emerge from an alleyway between buildings, when the driver has little or no visual clue about this impending hazard.

TU: What will the user interface for these V2V features need to include?

RB: This is still being defined. Each carmaker has its own way of providing information to the driver, and the nature of the information may dictate a wide range of modalities that are certainly possible. Much of the current research on vehicle safety systems’ human factors points toward a general inclination that a rapid driver response is best elicited through some type of audible alert. But certainly more research will be done on this issue in the near future.

TU: Are there particular safety features that will be more challenging for drivers to accept?

RB: One could certainly speculate that more obscure potential crash scenarios may be harder for drivers to process. As I implied previously, situations where the driver’s vision has traditionally been used for crash avoidance “sensing,” such as a straight-road, forward-collision warning, may be easy for the driver to imagine and correctly react to: Brake hard! It may be more challenging to get drivers to accept the need to react to a hazard they cannot yet see with their eyes—such as stopped cars on a curved road, a vehicle emerging from between buildings, or some other blind intersection.

TU: Are these new features potentially distracting to drivers? Are there privacy concerns?

RB: One of the most formidable challenges, particularly for V2V cooperative crash-avoidance systems, is that the value of a system to each individual vehicle driver depends on the market penetration, or the number of other similarly equipped vehicles. So DENSO, along with other industry stakeholders, has proposed that an essential part of any realistic deployment scenario includes not only equipping new vehicles, but also retrofitting the cars, trucks, and buses already on the road. In that case, we won’t have to wait 10 or 20 years for V2V systems to realize their full potential.

TU: What are the main benefits of V2V-equipped vehicles?

RB: The current thrust in the United States has focused on crash avoidance as the main benefit. The USDOT has stated that up to 80% of vehicle crash types involving non-impaired drivers could be impacted by the presence of connected vehicle technology. Other potential applications such as cooperative adaptive cruise control, where the exchange of vehicle dynamics data can allow for vehicle platooning, have also been advocated. That result is not so much safety-related but provides improvements in increasing traffic-flow density and efficiency.

TU: How should these new V2V safety features be presented to drivers?

RB: DENSO, along with leading carmakers and the USDOT, is currently engaged in research to help answer this question. So far, the jury is still out.

TU: What can be done to help users embrace this new technology?

RB: We at DENSO feel that “seeing is believing” and allowing users to experience this technology first hand, at the USDOT Driver Clinics or through other various Ride & Drive opportunities, is the best way to accelerate increased user acceptance levels. We have found that when users are in equipped vehicles and experience some of the near-crash scenarios under controlled conditions, they can easily visualize how such systems can benefit their driving safety and enhance their awareness under normal, everyday conditions. The usual response is something like, “Wow, that’s cool! I can really see how that might help me drive more safely.”

Jessica Royer Ocken is a regular contributor to TU.

For more on V2V and ADAS, see V2X telematics: Taking ADAS to the next level, Telematics and M2M communications: Creating the Internet of things, MEMS: The telematics opportunity and Telematics and enhanced consumer usability.

For more all the latest telematics trends, visit V2X Safety & Mobility 2012 USA on March 20-21 in Novi, MI, Telematics for Fleet Management Europe 2012 on March 26-27 in Amsterdam, Content & Apps for Automotive 2012 on April 18-19 in Germany, Insurance Telematics Europe 2012 on May 9-10 in London, Telematics Detroit 2012 on June 6-7, and Insurance Telematics USA 2012 in September in Chicago.

For exclusive telematics business analysis and insight, check out TU’s reports on In-Vehicle Smartphone Integration Report, Human Machine Interface Technologiesand Smart Vehicle Technology: The Future of Insurance Telematics.

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