New wireless technology enables connectivity for vehicles of all kinds—cars, trains and even bicycles. Vehicles can “talk” to each other, traffic signals, and mobile devices. What should they say? The team believes vehicles should talk about “Drivers' intention”. It would be tremendously valuable if vehicles can broadcast their drivers' intentions. To help people realize the value of broadcasting drivers’ intention, we may imagine what a mess it will be if cars change lane in traffic without turning signals. The intentions may include, but definitely not limit to, where it is heading, how the driver drive, and even whether the driver would like to pay for a better service. One of the potential applications regarding this concept is "car train". A car train looks like a train but consists of cars connecting with DSRC and sharing a same path within a section of highway. It is vehicles' carpooling. By communicating each other’s intention, a vehicle may join carpools in a form of car train to its destination. Since different driving intentions form different car trains, drivers don’t have to waste time but just pass the preceding guy who is texting; and a "paid" car train may be granted a temporary lifting of the speed limit. From a system point of view, "car train" would increase road capacity as well as smooth traffic by driving vehicles to and keeping them in their best positions during the trips. In short, the concept of broadcasting “drivers’ intention” is what vehicles should talk to each other’s; and “car train” would be an extremely valuable invention with the concept.
1. Describe the Concept: a. Describe the user or users
Vehicle drivers, including commercial vehicle drivers, will benefit from an implement of the concept. The only tool we have for sharing driver intentions now is car turning signals; it is very useful to indicate the coming movement. With broadcasting driver intentions through DSRC, vehicle movements will be more predictable and then facilitate better road traffic safety and a more efficient transportation system.
b. Explain the Concept’s value to the user and society as a whole
To the user: provide a safer, easier, and more efficient way to their destinations. To society: increase road capacity as well as smooth traffic.
c. Describe the conditions under which the Concept is useful
The concept would be very useful for medium to heavy traffic, especially in a multiple-lane section. By grouping homogenous drivers to form car trains may reduce human errors and then generate a more steady traffic.
d. Describe how the Concept operates, including its interdependencies with its functional environment, such as: transportation infrastructure (traffic signals, dynamic message signs, management centers, etc.), non-transportation infrastructure (for example, cell phone systems), vehicles (for example, on-board sensing equipment), persons other than the user that may interact with the Concept.
Car train is a platoon of vehicles sharing the same driving intention within a section of highway. With DSRC, the driving intention as well as vehicle dynamic information can be shared among vehicles in a car train and a vehicle can be led to a preferred one as well. Then the car train can act as a rail train in which all cars traveling in a same speed with minimum space headways. A vehicle in a car train can simply be driven by the leading one if an autopilot system is also available.
e. Explain how the Concept relies on the unique characteristics of DSRC, or enhances the use or usefulness of other DSRC devices, services, products, applications or solutions.
With the characteristics of DSRC, e.g. high packet delivery ratios, high data rate, long enough working distances, and low weather dependence, the concept of car train relying on heavy information exchange can be implemented by this technology. Besides the unique characteristics, the technology also provides a promising capability for encrypting data which is critical to private data transaction. The capability makes DSRC communication qualified for "transaction" or "priority" types of application, such as payment for toll roads and charge-in-motion services, or preemption for emergency vehicles.
f. Describe the ways in which the Concept is innovative: how it differs from past and current practices, technologies, approaches, etc.
Drivers’ behavior is one of the most challenge issues in transportation. Since human is not perfect, traffic flow can hardly act as other fluid flows. To broadcast drivers' "intention" is the key the team would like to emphasize. Besides telling here I am and where I'm heading, sharing how I would like to drive is the major difference from existing approaches.
2. Explain the process by which the Concept would be implemented and widely adopted. Discuss any other risks, costs or challenges in making the utilization and/or adoption of the Concept widespread, and how they could be overcome.
Unfortunately, the concept may not be deployed immediately due to a lack of key components besides DSRC. However, it could be implemented step by step. The very first step is the development of embedded system which can broadcast, receive, and analyze drivers' intentions. A connection with existing navigation systems could facilitate the development. Once the system is working, the information of surrounding traffic may benefit drivers to their driving in a safer way. An autopilot system, beyond cruise control, relied on the embedded system should be developed for the next step. The combination can make an aforementioned car train possible. How to deal with information from hundreds or even thousands surrounding vehicles simultaneously might be a challenge in making the utilization of the concept widespread. However, it would also be a challenge for all kinds of applications with DSRC. Solutions to this problem may come from the technology of DSRC itself or techniques analyzing received data. A sluggish solution may be just to allocate a time slot for each vehicle to send or receive information with DSRC. Better solutions are always available when appropriate projects are funded.