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  • Writer's pictureApoorv Singh

Connected and Automated Vehicles (CAVs) Overview

Introduction and Background

Since the motor wagon was first patented by German inventor Karl Benz in 1885, inventors have been continuously seeking to build better, faster, safer, and more reliable automobiles. Seat belts, Airbags, Electric power trains, and Cruise-control are a few of the breakthrough changes in the last few decades for this space. Connected Automated Vehicle is potentially another contender for this legacy which is right around the corner.

First, let’s dive into some background around it.

Automated Vehicle — Self-driving vehicles that can steer, accelerate and brake with little or no human input. Currently, there are a lot of companies that are developing different levels of autonomy. These vehicles typically have a lot of sensors like cameras, LiDARs, RADARs, Ultrasound sensors, mics, GPS, etc. . They may or may not require remote human assistance to maneuver complex road scenarios.

Connected Vehicles — Vehicles that are able to communicate and exchange information wirelessly with their environment. The environment includes other connected vehicles, traffic signs, pedestrians, cyclists, other road items, etc. This information will help in ensuring safety for road agents and also improve traffic flow.

Automated vehicles do not necessarily need to be connected, and vice versa, although the two technologies can be complementary. Convergence of these technologies will result in intelligent vehicles that are both connected and automated, hence the name — Connected and Automated Vehicles.

Connected Automated Vehicles

Connected Automated Vehicles have the ability to transform our society into one that is safer, more equitable, efficient, and sustainable. Currently, 94% of road fatalities are the result of human errors. For an autonomous vehicle to come full scale in production, they don’t just have to be better than humans but significantly (at least 10x) better than humans. In short autonomous cars have a high bar to enter the market, when competing with human drivers. Connected Vehicles Technology is one of the best bets that can improve an Autonomous car's performance by multiple times.

Let’s not even dive into that detail about connected autonomous vehicles, first look at one of the extremely simple ways of how connected automated vehicles can benefit the traffic.

Truck Platooning is one of the simplest examples of how CAVs can make trucks on highways more efficient. Truck Platooning is maintaining a specific distance, called Headway, between the trucks moving on the highway in the same lane. This minimizes air drag which has a significant contribution to fuel efficiency for big trucks moving at high speed. Also as a by-product, it minimizes traffic congestion.

Connected Vehicles can provide information or alerts to vehicles with the following benefits:

  • Minimize any kind of accidents

  • Reduce Traffic Congestion

  • Save Fuel

  • Minimize Driver stress

Technology Behind Communications

There are typically two types of communications that can enable V2V (vehicle-to-vehicle) communication for better adaptability of autonomous cars

  • 5G technology: C-V2X (Cellular- Vehicle to everything)

  • WIFI based technology: DSRC (Dedicated Short Range Communications)

Former, 5G tech, has potentially greater benefits with its low latency and superior range. The only downside is that 5G is not ubiquitous in all major CAV deployment cities yet. C-V2X can evolve with each new generation of cellular networks starting with 5G. We just need to change the cellular modem and everything else stays the same.

But later, DSRC, tech is already a matured technology and is ready for deployment right now. This comes with inherent issues with only short-range communications.

As of now, it seems that C-V2X has a higher potential to become standard for V2V communications.

Personal Data Protection

Since Vehicle geolocation is shared on the cloud, it can be a possibility for malicious hackers to track any given vehicle over time. To prevent this each CAV should be associated with a cryptic hash value that is updated in a non-trackable manner frequently. This hash value shouldn’t be dependent on vehicle model/ ID for example — a white Toyota Camry, etc.. but just with a random hash value generated for that vehicle.

Vehicle Cyber Security

The increasing connectivity of digital devices including vehicles presents a new challenge in relation to cyber security. Failure to ensure the security of any kind of adversarial attacks won’t just undermine the public’s confidence in CAVs but also poses risk to public safety. This demands a good emphasis on the cyber resilience of the entire connected mobility network.

Some form of blockchain can be integrated with the shared data so that only the CAVs on the platform can be able to publish the data. Once any information is added to the blockchain ledger, it can not ever be modified. Hence it enables us to backtrack any information which can be used by cops/ insurance providers in case of any special scenarios as well. This will help to recreate the traffic scenarios which couldn’t get recorded otherwise.

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