Audi approaches connecting cars with their environment as a holistic project. It encompasses not just contact with external data servers, but also exchanges with other vehicles and the transport infrastructure – the technical sector of Car-2-X communication.
In contrast to today’s telematics systems, Car-2-X communication no longer requires a central service provider to pool and process information. The participants themselves perform these tasks by spontaneously networking with one another. Once all new cars are equipped with this technology, a functional network of automotive transmitters will soon be available.
One initial product of the development work is the travolution project that Audi launched in its home city of Ingolstadt in 2006. The vehicles in the test fleet communicate by WLAN and UMTS with the traffic signals on many of the city’s major streets. These signals tell the vehicles when they will be changing and what the optimal speed is between each set of traffic signals.
This form of integration makes traffic flow much better. As the project stands now, the Audi experts expect CO2 emissions at traffic signals to decrease by roughly 15 percent. This corresponds to an overall saving of approximately 900 million liters (237,755,000 US gallons) of fuel per year if the new technology were to be deployed throughout Germany. Over and above this progress, the travolution project includes two additional convenience services – online payment at filling stations and parking garages.
As a complement to travolution, Audi is also involved in the nationwide simTD project (Safe and Intelligent Mobility Test Bed Germany). Five other German carmakers, two major suppliers, Deutsche Telekom and a number of scientific and public institutions have been collaborating on this large-scale test, which is supported by three federal ministries, since 2008.
The project, being carried out in the Frankfurt region, comprises five subsidiary areas and Audi has assumed responsibility for one of these. Throughout the urban area, 20 sets of traffic signals and 400 vehicles are converted with the same technology as in Ingolstadt. Audi’s specialists are also looking into the area of traffic information with road preview and extended navigation. Audi is furthermore involved in the field of driving and safety, where it is working on the intersection assistant. This involves cars exchanging their data, so that they can alert each other if there is a threat of collisions.
Car-2-X communication harbors significant potential for enhancing safety and reducing fuel consumption. The participating vehicles can alert each other to congestion, breakdowns and weather events such as packed snow. Findings relating to the traffic flow can promote an energy-efficient driving style. Such a change in behavior will be especially important now that electric drive is set to become increasingly widespread. Another benefit of Car-2-X is that the driver can be guided straight to a vacant parking space.
Autonomous driving could be one future outcome of this new level of connectivity. Many Audi models are already capable of largely recognizing their environment thanks to their sensors. With future Car-2-X modules and additional cameras, the vehicle will then be able to drive itself whenever the driver wants it to do so, for instance in congestion or in stop-and-go traffic. Audi regards this scenario not as dictating to the driver, but as an offer – the driver is of course at liberty to resume control at any time.
The equipment, data and prices specified in this document refer to the model range offered in Germany. Subject to change without notice; errors and omissions excepted.