Volvo cars share road-condition info in the cloud

February 13, 2015 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
In a joint project, carmaker Volvo, the Swedish Transport Administration and the Norwegian Public Roads Administration combine V2X communications and cloud-based data storage and processing. The purpose: spreading information about hazardous road condition as quickly as possible so that icy patches won't cause accidents anymore.

Originally started with 50 cars involved, the project has now been expanded to 1000 vehicles. The engineers have developed a slippery-road alert which notifies drivers about patches of black ice, making winter road maintenance more efficient. In the vehicles, the alert activates a warning light to notify the drivers if another vehicle in the area has its hazard lights on. During the course of the project, the group intends to develop further safety features. "This is just the beginning", said project leader Erik Israelsson.

Along with the increase of the test fleet, Volvo plans to broaden the test area to include the cities of Gothenburg (Sweden) and Oslo (Norway). The project also demonstrates the evolution of the car-to-car (or V2V) communications technology: Developed initially as a means to pass on information between vehicles, it soon has been expanded to include vehicle-to-roadside communications schemes. The inclusion of the cloud, as realised in the project at hand, is the next logic step. The slippery-road alert also sends information about icy patches to road administrators as a complement to existing roadside measurement stations. These data help the road administration to better plan and execute winter road maintenance and address sudden changes quickly. The Norwegian Public Roads Administration plans to conduct an independent assessment of the system to identify additional usage models for the data to further improve winter road maintenance.

Volvo said it invests in and initiates partnerships to create cloud-based solutions. The hazard-light and slippery-road alerts are the first safety features in the Volvo cloud. The development of sophisticated communication via the mobile network is part of the company’s aim to offer customers a fully connected experience. The company held out the prospect of additional V2V applications.
“There is considerable potential in this area, including safer traffic, a more comfortable drive and improved traffic flow,” Israelsson said.
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