Fitted as standard on the new Golf, the innovative Car2X technology has been hailed as a true technical milestone, comparable to ABS or airbags. The system helps to prevent accidents by connecting with other vehicles and the traffic infrastructure.
Everyday driving can bring some very tricky situations, such as deciding how to react if you hear an ambulance arriving but you can’t see its lights or where it’s coming from. What do you do? Try to pull over or just carry on to leave a gap? Or, how do you react when you see a broken-down car on the road? In situations like these, the decision relies on the driver’s instinct and common sense. However, the new Volkswagen Golf offers a better solution. “We can support drivers with our new Car2X technology, which is fitted as standard,” explains safety expert Thomas Biehle.
Thanks to the traffic hazard alert function the car will automatically indicate a critical situation that occurs within the system’s limits. In the first example described above, the “Emergency services vehicle” warning appears on the Digital Cockpit, along with an acoustic warning. An arrow also indicates the direction from which the emergency services vehicle is coming and its approximate distance. This means drivers have plenty of time to make the right decision.
How Wi-Fi p works
The Volkswagen Golf is the first car in Europe to offer Car2X technology as standard. As Biehle explains, it is “based on the Wi-Fi p wireless standard, which was specifically developed for local communication between vehicles and operates without the need for mobile phone networks. It works across Europe and provides blanket coverage within the limits of the system.”
Vehicles equipped with the necessary hardware modules exchange positioning data and information directly through Wi-Fi p, within a radius of up to 800 metres and in a matter of milliseconds. The data is not saved anywhere, thus maintaining the privacy of users.
Independent safety experts have been full of praise for Volkswagen’s Car2X technology. German Automotive Association ADAC tested it at its premises in the Bavarian town of Penzing. It sent the new Golf into eight typical hazardous situations in which a driver would only be able to react at a dangerously late stage, or not at all.
One of the situations was a broken-down car at the side of the road positioned behind a tight corner. Thanks to Car2X the new Golf alerted the driver eleven seconds prior to the potential impact – at a speed of 100 km/h and a distance of around 300 metres from the stationary vehicle. The other tests were also completed successfully with the car warning the driver in due time.
A milestone in safety
As a result, the ADAC declared Car2X a “technological milestone”, comparable to systems such as ABS or airbags. The Euro NCAP organisation had a similar opinion of the technology. It honoured the traffic hazard alert functionality with its Advanced Award – a special award for ground-breaking safety features manufacturers introduce on their own initiative. Volkswagen has received the award five times in total with the Golf also having received five stars in the Euro NCAP crash test at the end of 2019. In addition, the independent European organisation intends to incorporate Car2X technology into its rating as a future criterion.
In the city and outside
Currently, the new Golf’s Car2X technology activates from a speed of 80 km/h – the point where the City Emergency Braking System reaches its limits – and is geared towards country roads and dual carriageways. But Volkswagen is already working on the system’s evolution. “At a later development stage Car2X solutions will boost safety in city traffic and for all road users. Two major junctions in Wolfsburg have been fitted with permanently installed sensors as part of a test. They are able to record pedestrians’ and cyclists’ positions down to the centimetre and millisecond so affected drivers can be warned should a critical situation develop,” explains Biehle.
The benefits for traffic
Car2X can also benefit the flow of traffic. “If the car is communicating with traffic lights in the vicinity using Wi-Fi p, drivers can adapt their speed to sail through green traffic lights. A test in Wolfsburg is already on-going and a similar project will soon launch in Braunschweig,” notes Biehle. “Platooning” could represent a further use case for Car2X technology: this is where commercial vehicles form convoys on motorways to provide one another with a slipstream, boosting safety and saving fuel.
The system developed by Volkswagen uses the principle of swarm intelligence, which is a characteristic of Wi-Fi p – it improves with the number of participants it integrates. That is why Volkswagen is now rolling out its Car2X technology on a large scale, with other models to follow the Golf.