BMW: When cars talk to each other


BMW-Car-TalkThe key to intelligent driving, which is synonymous with  energy-efficient and safe driving, is forward thinking. To help  drivers plan ahead, vehicles from the BMW Group are already fitted  with a large number of sensors designed to improve safety, comfort and  efficiency.

Often, however, these sensors have only a limited  predictive capability or “horizon”. “Car-to-x”  communication extends this horizon significantly, and will in future  allow drivers to “see” long distances ahead, into areas  currently hidden from view, and even around not just one but many corners.

Car-to-x communication means electronic networking of vehicles and  roadside infrastructure, with the aim of exchanging information  directly both between road users and between road users and roadside  infrastructure such as traffic lights. Car-to-x communication is a  comprehensive communication network which any road user can take part in.

Car-to-x communication usually operates via WLAN or mobile phone  connections. For standard automotive application, car-to-x  communication at present uses high-speed WLAN networking based on the  high-frequency WLAN IEEE802.11p/ G5A standard, which is designed to  allow real-time communication. The protocol allows large numbers of  participants to communicate simultaneously without interference. At  the same time the performance of mobile phone networks is improving  steadily, with an increase in bandwidth and a reduction in data lag  – the so-called latency times. Therefore, this type of medium,  too, is becoming increasingly important for car-to-car communication,  for example as a complement to direct communication via WLAN.

 BMW Car Talk 2012

Connectivity brings added value.

Integrated and connected vehicle functions are nothing new within the  BMW Group. Connectivity for infotainment applications already made its  debut in the 1990s with BMW ConnectedDrive. For some years, the focus  of development work in the BMW Group has been shifting increasingly  towards integrated and connected comfort and, in particular, safety  functions. Here, car-to-x communication opens up completely new  potential. In the event of a hazard, extensive connectivity between  vehicles allows oncoming and following traffic to be given advance  warning of potential dangers, and therefore to react appropriately and  in good time. But warnings are only one possible use of this  communication platform. Since infrastructure data, too – for  example about traffic light phases – can be integrated into this  communication system, information is available which allows drivers to  easily adapt their driving style for even greater efficiency, thereby  significantly reducing vehicle emissions. This technology therefore  offers new solutions not only for proactive safety and accident  prevention but also for intelligent energy management.

“The more information I have about the rest of my journey  – for example, if I know in advance when traffic lights will  change, or if I know that an accident has just happened further along  the route – the more promptly I can react, which means I have  less stress and can either avoid hazardous situations altogether or at  least reduce the risk.” (Karl-Ernst Steinberg, Head of  Information and Communication Technologies at BMW Group Research and Technology).

In combination with existing vehicle sensors, car-to-x communication  provides a valuable starting point or enhancement for a wide range of  BMW ConnectedDrive driver assistance and information systems of the  future. These technologies, combined with the driver’s own  input, create an extremely high-performance macrosystem capable of  ensuring a safe and efficient journey from start to finish.