From the left: Buddhika Maitipe, Imran Hayee, and Umair Ibrahim with several V2V units on the desk
Long winters promise snow on the roads, snowplows, and icy conditions that can lead to collisions. Even without the snow, traffic jams and vehicular accidents are a fact of driving. Recently, the U.S. Department of Transportation initiated a research program using Dedicated Short-Range Communications (DSRC) technology for data retrieval between moving vehicles, and from vehicles to transportation infrastructure. UMD Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Imran Hayee and a group of graduate students created a system that fulfilled the transportation-communication criteria.
“The vehicle to vehicle system, also known as V2V, is a combination of a traffic data acquisition and distribution system,” said Hayee. “The information is obtained and then distributed to each vehicle. The future phases of this work will increase safety and minimize travel time for emergency vehicles who need to arrive on the scene quickly.”
A common scenario for the V2V system would be when a vehicle collides with another vehicle; a roadside device would then alert vehicles on route toward the collision site with the traffic data, including the start of the congestion location and travel time. Once this information is received, the driver could choose an alternate route by taking the nearest exit to avoid the collision site. The idea is to lessen congestion and inform drivers about upcoming mishaps. “The decision to change route would be up to the driver,” said Hayee. “But it gives each person a choice within minutes of the accident or traffic jam.”
The Heart Behind the Design
Hayee and several graduate students designed the software of the portable roadside units, as well as the units for personal vehicles.
From the left: Ibrahim, Maitipe, and Hayee with a V2V unit
UMD graduate students, Umair Ibrahim and Buddhika Maitipe, were a part of the team effort to create the models and plan the programming of each unit.
“The students were in charge of building and programming the units,” said Hayee. “They had to problem solve, create, and test each one before they presented them at the Transportation Research Board’s annual conference in Washington DC earlier this year. The students had to do the proof-of-concept demonstration and by doing so, they received funding from the Northland Advanced Transportation System Research Laboratories (NATSRL) to continue this project beyond the concept phase.”
Although the technology for the V2V system is complicated and detail-oriented, the graduate students welcomed the challenge for many reasons. At the heart of the research, both Ibrahim and Maitipe focused on the humanity of what they were creating.
“I enjoyed working on this project,” said Ibrahim. “It’s cutting-edge technology, but what is best is that it could potentially save lives. When emergency vehicles can arrive faster, that means less time for victims to wait for help. We will see people assisted quickly who are in desperate situations. Time will be saved with this technology, and in an emergency, time is everything.”
While time is of the essence in an emergency, Maitipe is also enthusiastic about the potential of having the V2V system available for everyone. “We have been given the chance to research cutting-edge technology. We will see it implemented in communities, at the fingertips of every person who owns a vehicle. It will be magic to see it saving lives.”
The V2V system is easy to place within vehicles. “An important decision is pending that by 2013, all new vehicles will incorporate the DSRC unit and the cost will be a part of the price tag,” said Hayee. “For older models, the units will be available for sale and the set up is simple.” At the same time, the units require simple installation in work zones when needed. If a construction area is dealing with a high percentage of traffic jams, a service person can arrive at the scene and quickly install the device to alert drivers about the slow down.
According to a recent article from an online newsletter, the ITS Institute Sensor, “The new system is one of many applications now being developed based on the DSRC standard. The DSRC is designed for short-range use—typically less than 1,000 meters. It offers high data transmission rates with low latency and is largely unaffected by weather disturbances.” Considering the amount of rain and snow that Minnesotans face each year, technology that continues to work during inclement weather is a must-have.
Written by Christiana Kapsner, September 2011