Traffic Lights Become Data Hub

04/21/2016 // At the Hanover Fair, IAV Automotive Engineering presents new solutions to communication between vehicle and traffic infrastructure

Berlin. IAV is showing new solutions at the 2016 Hanover Fair (April 25 to 29) for connected, highly automated driving which the company has developed in cooperation with Microsoft Corp. Here, the existing traffic infrastructure in the urban environment plays a key part – like traffic lights that gather data, wirelessly communicate them to vehicles in compliance with standard IEEE 802.11p and help to avoid hazardous situations. Visitors will have the opportunity to experience the new functions in person at Microsoft’s booth C40 in hall 7 and also on a test drive.

In future, communication with the surrounding infrastructure will provide vehicles with additional information, e.g., for identifying and immediately responding to hazardous situations in advance. Collaborating with Microsoft at the Hanover Fair, IAV will be showing what connected, highly automated driving may look like in practice. “The vehicle receives data from a set of traffic lights serving as a collection and distribution point for various information sources. This way, for instance, pedestrians with a wearable, such as a smart watch, can inform the car through the traffic lights that they are approaching the road – giving the car sufficient time to slow down automatically,” says Benedikt Schonlau, head of Active Safety and Lighting Functions at IAV.

On top of this, the new system can also use cameras that are installed on traffic lights and watch the traffic situation. Their images are evaluated by algorithms on the basis of Microsoft Azure Machine Learning, and as soon as a hazardous situation is identified, the vehicle is informed and automatically decelerated. The traffic lights do, of course, also transmit their own information to road users, allowing them to brake automatically when the lights are on red and automatically continue when they change to green. This turns traffic lights into a smart device that no longer merely controls traffic but can also take on additional functions to improve road safety in the surrounding driving environment.

The new functions make extensive use of the infrastructure that already exists and are based on the widespread OCIT standard (Open Communication Interface for Road Traffic Control Systems) with prototype traffic lights produced specifically for this purpose. Whereas the algorithms for image processing come from Microsoft, IAV has provided the function algorithms and integrated them into the components in compliance with the standards. This sees IAV and Microsoft continue their successful collaboration in the field of connected mobility. The two companies had presented similar functions back in January at CES in Las Vegas.

The cloud-based merger of road-sign recognition also helps to improve road safety. Here, many vehicles send the results of their internal road-sign recognition capability to the cloud where they are merged. The processed information then flows back to the vehicles – significantly enhancing recognition accuracy, such as in poor light conditions. IAV’s merger algorithms also run on the Microsoft Azure cloud platform.

This work taking place between IAV and Microsoft is just the beginning of this relationship. Both companies are also planning to use Windows 10 Continuum to stream Windows 10 into the vehicle’s instrument panel. This would make it possible, for example, to integrate data and services through devices drivers already use on their notebook, tablet PC or smartphone with apps, like Skype for Business, Office 365 and Groove Music.

Visitors to Hanover Fair can gather information on these and other functions while they are there: At the Microsoft booth (hall 7 / booth C40), an E-Golf will be providing a glimpse at aspects, such as new forms of productivity. And outdoors at the fair, close to hall 27 (L44 / 1), a test track has been installed, allowing visitors to experience connected driving and communication with traffic lights first-hand in a Golf Compact. A shuttle service is being laid on between the exhibition booth and the test track.