The technology has been trialed in the city of Alpharetta.
For decades, vehicle safety has focused on how capable an individual vehicle was of keeping occupants protected in the event of a crash. That's why the majority of new vehicles now attain a five-star crash rating. But increasingly, automotive safety has expanded to take into account the vehicle's environment and there is a greater collective effort to prevent accidents from occurring in the first place. It's why we have features like blind-spot monitoring and forward-collision warning.
Another example of this is Audi's use of cellular vehicle-to-everything technology (C-V2X), which was announced in April and has now been tested in Alpharetta, Georgia, as a means of keeping school kids safer on the streets. But that's just one of its potential benefits.
C-V2X works by utilizing 4G LTE or 5G cellular networks, thereby transmitting wireless signals between cars, pedestrians' mobile devices, and objects like traffic lights. This way, a vehicle can obtain information about its surroundings and feed the driver with warnings to slow down if, for example, they entered a school zone.
Audi worked with Qualcomm, a wireless technology company, and Commsignia, a software systems provider, to test C-V2X tech in a 2021 Audi e-tron Sportback. A Blue Bird bus was also used for the experiment, which took place in Alpharetta and the Fulton County School System. 58 of the 130 connected traffic signals in and around Alpharetta are equipped with C-V2X, and this number could increase over the next few years.
On specific speed limit signs, intelligent roadside units were mounted. These units, together with the Blue Bird bus, successfully communicated with the Audi. The driver received visual and audible warnings to slow down when necessary.
"What we [and our partners] have been able to do is really dig into final questions that must be answered when C-V2X begins to appear in production vehicles," said Audi spokesman Jacob Brown in an email.
Other automakers are working on similar technology. Honda's vehicle-to-everything (V2X) tech plotted scenarios such as a car jumping a red light; cameras can pick this up and alert approaching drivers. Some Fords in Europe already use V2X to alert other drivers of nearby hazards. C-V2X is being evaluated for use along curves, through live traffic, and up hills. Although installing the tech to make C-V2X viable over large areas will take some time, the technology is promising in its ability to avoid potentially fatal crashes and Audi's latest test run confirms that.