Cloud and swarm intelligence: next generation Car2X technology

Cloud and swarm intelligence: next generation Car2X technology

Swarm intelligence makes alert services even more efficient, enabling data provided by over 1.7 million vehicles from the Volkswagen Group to be processed faster. The new system boosts safety by analysing the condition of road surfaces.

Audi is taking another step toward safer and more intelligent mobility. The carmaker is using high-precision swarm data for the first time, thus further improving the Local Hazard Information function of its Car2X service. The new version uses a car-to-cloud application that is based on a novel procedure for estimating the coefficient of friction on the basis of the wheel slip. This technology can detect the tiniest changes in road surface adhesion, upload data to the cloud for processing, and warn drivers about potential hazards even faster.

How Car2X works

Since 2017, cars made by Audi have been able to warn each other about accidents, broken down vehicles, traffic jams, road ice, or limited visibility. This is possible via the Car2X technology in the Local Hazard Information service. It analyses various data – including activation of Electronic Stabilization Control (ESC), rain and light sensors, windshield wipers, headlights, emergency calls, and airbag triggers – which it then uploads to the cloud to warn other vehicles. The next step for the technology is the use of high-precision swarm data to make warnings even faster and more precise.

Audi is the first car manufacturer to use an innovative patented data platform from Swedish company NIRA Dynamics AB for this purpose. The platform was developed alongside Car.Software organization, the Volkswagen Group’s software division, and HERE Technologies.

Sensors and data

Within Audi cars, the software can estimate the coefficient of friction between the tires and the road surface using sensor data, such as wheel slip and information generated by the chassis control system; the car’s electronics receive this data constantly, not only during extreme situations. The data is anonymised and transmitted to the cloud hosted by NIRA Dynamics AB.

Aggregated data from many vehicles are combined with metadata, such as current and historical weather information, and then transmitted to HERE Technologies, whose location platform represents the road network as a precise three-dimensional model.


Swarm intelligence

The data, metadata and location are combined and analysed by HERE servers, which send the warning information to those cars that are in or heading toward areas with poor conditions. The driver sees a warning in the Audi virtual cockpit or on the head-up display. The greater the number of vehicles that deliver the data, the better the system can learn, analyse, and create maps – and thereby share information with the drivers.

This is the basic principle of swarm data and swarm intelligence – an area in which Audi has acquired extensive knowledge over the past years. In 2021, more than 1.7 million vehicles from the Volkswagen Group in Europe will process data for this information service. This will increase to more than 3 million in 2022 across the Audi, Volkswagen, SEAT, ŠKODA, Porsche, Bentley, and Lamborghini brands.

The role of Car.Software

Car.Software.Org is the Volkswagen Group’s automotive software development division. The project was designed so that the greatest possible number of the Group’s car and vehicle drivers could benefit from the clear safety advantages the information provides.

The project is a good example of the potential for cross-brand software development. Together with other Group brands and our strategic partners, we were able to develop a digital service within a few months while making use of our own software skills and economies of scale,” says Thomas Müller, Head of Advanced Driving Assistance Systems ADAS & Automated Driving AD at Car.Software.Org.

Individual and collective benefits

Drivers don’t just benefit on an individual level: thanks to Audi Car2X, for example, municipalities can optimise their snow clearing service in real time, and also reduce the environmental impact by using less road salt. Driver assist systems can also precondition themselves and adjust to road conditions with even greater precision. And, finally, for cars, monitoring the wheel slip can provide data to optimise tire maintenance services – for example, by detecting the level of wear and the performance level of the tire.


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