Audi tests tech which aims to make driving in school zones safer, automatically
Audi of America has partnered with some other companies to test a technology that can recognize school zones in order to make them safer for children and pedestrians alike. The school-zone focused Cellular Vehicle-To-Everything (C-V2X) technology uses cellular signals to allow vehicles to communicate with the surrounding vehicles and infrastructure.
Audi's partners include Qualcomm Technologies, Commsignia, Applied Information, Blue Bird, the Fulton County School System, the city of Alpharetta, Georgia and Temple. The cohort aims to help prevent the more than 25,000 injuries and 100 fatalities that occur in school zones and at school bus stops in the US annually, by the means of technology.
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For the testing phase, Audi equipped an e-tron Sportback and a propane-powered Blue Bird school bus with the C-V2X system. The system communicates with the Roadside Unit (RSU) found in the school zone speed limit sign and subsequently alerts the vehicle's driver to slow down. The Blue Bird bus extends its stop arm and alerts all oncoming traffic equipped with the C-V2X system that children may be entering or exiting the bus, indicating that they need to stop until the arm is put down. This reduces risk for children and other vulnerable road users.
The initial deployment of the system is taking place within the Fulton County School System in US' Georgia where the participating companies have installed the infrastructure equipped with the new C-V2X system. The testing zone is about 78.5-square mile, including over 130 connected traffic signals that use LTE and 5G networks to keep in constant communication with each other and with other relevant vehicles.
With the direct C-V2X communication system, a vehicle is able to pick up a basic safety message every 100 milliseconds, taking topography, time of day for school zones and indirect cell tower communications into consideration as well. Moreover, the technology can supplement cameras and sensors to read the road, making way for a future where truly automated driving will no longer rely on visible vehicles and road markings. Thus, it will help drivers move more safely down the road.