Enhancing road safety applications for truck drivers

Christos Oikonomopoulos-Zachos, IMST GmbH details how advanced communication techniques can be used for road safety applications

The ROADART (Research on Alternative Diversity Aspects for Trucks) project aims to evaluate diversity techniques and antenna concepts, in order to develop an in-vehicle platform for cooperative intelligent transportation systems (ITS) for trucks and heavy duty vehicles in the Horizon 2020 call MG-3.5a-2014, “Cooperative ITS for safe, congestion-free and sustainable mobility”.

Highlighting large vehicles for road safety

Most of the previous and ongoing ITS projects addressed mainly issues regarding passenger cars. Trucks have not been thoroughly considered and investigated yet. ROADART aims to fill this gap with the development of an in-vehicle platform for cooperative ITS. More particularly, requirements for large vehicles are considered initiating the need for new system architectures, e.g. in terms of system partitioning, diversity and antenna concepts. This will lead to new system architectures and antenna configurations in order to ensure satisfactory quality of service (QoS). An example of a dedicated use case under critical conditions for road safety applications is the platooning of several trucks driving close behind each other through tunnels with walls close to the antennas that support the communication systems. Due to the importance of tunnel safety, significant research effort is needed in order to check the behavior of the antenna pattern, diversity algorithms and ray tracing models especially for trucks passing through tunnels. Cooperative adaptive cruise control (CACC), a safety-critical application, will be implemented on a truck, to evaluate the theoretical results and to support the planned measurements. Herewith, a safety approach for increasing robustness w.r.t. wireless communication impairments on the application layer will be developed and implemented.

The ROADART Project

The ROADART project focuses on multi-antenna wireless transmission systems and all possible diversity configurations for Truck-to-Truck (T2T) and Truck-to-Infrastructure (T2I) communications. The performance of these techniques will be also evaluated with respect to reliability, availability, throughput etc. taking into account all the peculiar parameters for T2T/T2I wireless networking. After this evaluation step, the optimal antenna diversity technique will be proposed and implemented.

ROADART also introduces novel beam formers in vehicular communications with the use of compact electronically controlled parasitic arrays. ROADART will develop geometric stochastic channel models based on T2T multi-antenna radio channel measurements. These models will apply to environments of highways and tunnels.

ROADART also looks into proposing an efficient and operational cooperative framework to increase robustness and reliability of T2T and T2I links. The development of the framework will be based on mathematical and simulation analysis that will lead to the design of novel relaying protocols and optimised power allocation and relay placement schemes. Special attention will be given to specific applications like tunnel crossing and platooning. Within the ROADART project the partners will design, implement and evaluate a safety framework for time-critical cooperative-driving applications, focusing on the application layer, in order to obtain robustness against wireless communication impairments, in particular packet loss and (time-varying) latency. To this end, CACC is chosen as the cooperative driving application of interest, being both time and safety critical.

The main use cases of Day 1 V2V applications are road safety applications. ROADART aims to provide reliable communications for trucks with cars or infrastructure as a basis for all road safety applications. More specifically, the use cases which can benefit from this project are:

  • In-Vehicle signage (simplex);
  • Road work warning (T2I application);
  • Probe traffic data;
  • Hazardous location warning.

It is clear that the number of crashes can be reduced if the driver of a truck or heavy duty vehicle is warned in time or informed about upcoming situations or dangers. Moreover, the number of accidents during truck platooning with the transmission of immediate warning signals though the reliable T2T wireless links could also be minimised.

Additionally, several applications in the vehicle or truck may benefit from the information gained via T2T communications. For example, the Probe traffic data collected by the road operators may be used for traffic optimisation and then used as feedback for the truck navigation systems. Therefore, the route calculations can take into account highly accurate and up to date traffic information. Furthermore, efficient and effective truck platooning leads to a reduction of gas emissions for the following vehicles. Through reliable wireless communication links, an application that can ensure safe platooning with small inter-vehicle distance and relatively high speeds can be proposed. This would take into account not only the cost-effectiveness of transportation services but also the adaption of the platoon in traffic conditions and minimisation of gas emissions.

The envisaged platform of the ROADART project targets high quality, low latency, and high throughput T2T and T2I efficient communication links. The ability to transfer reliable and duly-delivered traffic information content among trucks will allow the adaptation of the platooning conditions on real-time traffic disruptions. Moreover, it will ensure the uninterrupted and safe transportation provided by heavy-duty vehicles. Not only the advanced communication techniques and antenna concepts, but also the localisation capabilities provided by this platform in hostile environments, e.g. in tunnels, will allow for safe platooning.

The aforementioned highly accurate and up to date traffic information generated from the data collected by the In-Vehicle ITS Platform also allows for the detection of traffic disruptions and take them into account for route calculations of navigation systems. Moreover, the trucks will operate as a “traffic condition sensor” and through T2I communication, it will be possible to continuously update information and inform drivers and vehicles in the area.

Finally, due to traffic optimisation and reduction of traffic jams the greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) may be significantly reduced. This can be achieved through reliable and uninterrupted communication T2I links. As mentioned before, platooning can also lead to significant reduction of GHG emissions, as long as the requirements for safe platooning are met.

Although trucks are in the focus of the project, other V2V communication systems may benefit from the results. Some passenger cars will omit the shark fin antenna on the roof top in the future. Therefore, the best position for V2V antennas will not be available anymore, and alternative system architectures should be considered. A diversity-based approach, e.g. by exploiting antennas in the side mirrors, could be a viable and effective solution and benefit from the investigations of this project. With the application of robust diversity and beamforming techniques the resulting ROADART platform will assure a sustainable and holistic approach for corporative ITS systems in a way that state-of-the-art systems cannot provide.

Dr. Christos Oikonomopoulos-Zachos
Project leader Automotive Antennas
Please note: this is a commercial profile

Dr. Christos Oikonomopoulos-Zachos was born in Volos Greece in 1976. He studied electrical engineering at the RWTH Aachen University (Dipl.-Ing. 02, Dr.-Ing. 2010). In 2009 he started working at IMST in the department of Antennas & EM-Modelling. Since 2011 he is project leader in the field of automotive antennas


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