Comparing the Auto industry to the Computer industry is like comparing two different generations of technology. We have got super-fast smart phones and iPads giving us live streaming in our pockets, whereas we have got satellite radio and clunky GPS devices attached to our dashboards. Automakers are aware they are a little behind the times, and by 2020, many are promising dashboard and safety systems as sophisticated as iPads, maybe even more!

Car-to-car communication:

The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced that it will begin taking steps to enable vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication technology for light vehicles. This technology would allow vehicles to “talk” to each other and ultimately avoid many crashes altogether by exchanging basic safety data, such as speed and position, ten times per second, to improve safety.

It uses ‘ad hoc network’, where every car is free to associate with any other car available in the network and share equal status. An ad-hoc network is a local area network (LAN) that is built spontaneously as devices connect. Instead of relying on a base station to coordinate the flow of messages to each node in the network, the individual network nodes forward packets to and from each other. In Latin, ad hoc literally means “for this,” meaning “for this special purpose” and also, by extension, improvised. V2V, which is also known as VANET (vehicular ad hoc network), is a variation of MANET (mobile ad hoc network). Many automobile manufacturers including BMW, Audi, Honda, General Motors, Volvo and Daimler working and developing this technology to improve safety, overcome blind spots and avoid accidents.

Car-to-X communication:

BMW’s innovative Car-to-X technology enables your BMW to communicate directly with other vehicles on the road, enabling you to exchange information about current traffic congestion, road conditions, etc.

Are the headlights on? At what speed are the windscreen wipers operating? What do the suspension system and ABS sensors report? Today’s BMWs are equipped with a wide range of assistant systems and sensors that constantly monitor and analyse your BMW’s driving behaviour and condition.

The objective of vehicle-to-vehicle communication is to make this information available to other vehicles too. Rather than transmitting the data to a central hub, it is sent directly to all relevant vehicles in the vicinity using mobile WLAN technology. Thanks to “multi-hopping”, an ad hoc network like this can extend from vehicle to vehicle over great distances. It requires no additional infrastructure or extensive equipment: each vehicle takes on the role of transmitter, receiver or intermediary as needed.

This approach offers benefits to all participants. Each driver has access to a far broader range of local and situation-specific information – as individual and ergonomic as possible, as detailed as necessary. It enables a car to send warnings to the vehicles behind it in the event of a traffic jam, a sudden storm or huge rock on the road ahead. This ability to prepare for forthcoming driving conditions represents a dramatic improvement in road safety. By integrating this data into adaptive cruise control systems, it would be possible to improve traffic flow in general.

BMW Car-to-X Communication

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Rajiv Ramaswamy,


Final Year, B.E Automobile Engineering.