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Car-to-x applications made possible by new framework

01 Oct 2012  | Christoph Hammerschmidt

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Scientists from Fraunhofer ESK have developed a car-to-x framework and will be demonstrating this in Vienna later this year. Developers will be able to implement complex car-to-x applications by using the platform, such as collaborative driver assistance systems.

Car-to-x framework or vehicle-to-environment communication scheme aims to assist drivers by providing them with all the necessary information for them to reach their destination as safely and quickly as possible. This includes road conditions, automatic anti-glare headlight controls or traffic congestion warnings. It is also possible to get "green wave" assistance, which is when cars are given green traffic lights when travelling at a specific speed.

Research institute Fraunhofer ESK has designed a software framework that enables designers to implement car-to-x applications, in particular in the segment of collaborative driver assistance systems and smart traffic guidance systems. Besides purely communication-oriented tasks as defined in the related ETSI ITS standards, Fraunhofer ESK has added software components, which support Rapid Prototyping. For example, the framework enables developers to access external sensors such as GPS systems as well as the vehicle's speed and radar sensors and make their data available to the car-to-x application. Digital map data can be integrated as well as dynamic environment data.

The framework also contains so called "facilities"—a middleware layer that provides a number of basic services for the applications. An example is a service that determines the exact location. Such a service is useful to implementing car-to-x applications aiming at better safety, lower fuel consumption and shorter travel times.

While hitherto only separate software components were offered, the Fraunhofer ESK framework contains a comprehensive software bundle. Out of this package, developers can select the components required for their actual use case. In addition, the package can be expanded by additional components. Unlike similar offerings, the framework is independent from any underlying hardware.

Software demo
In Vienna later this year, the Fraunhofer scientists will demonstrate three prototypical applications developed with the framework. Demonstration attendees will witness how after a simulated accident warning information is displayed on the dashboard of a model vehicle. In addition, the occupants of this model vehicle receive data as to the direction from where a rescue vehicle will arrive, enabling the drivers to keep an emergency lane clear.

In a joint research project with carmaker Volkswagen, the scientists also developed an app for the rescuer's tablet computer that indicates which airbags in the accident vehicles have been fired, along with basic construction data of this car—an information that is relevant in particular the accident car is equipped with an hybrid electric or electric power train—in such cases the high-voltage batteries can create serious dangers for rescuers.

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