Road Network Operations
& Intelligent Transport Systems
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Connected Vehicle Technology

Digital mobile telecommunications are having a profound effect on the operating environment for ITS by enabling Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) and Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) communications. The combination of the two is sometimes referred to as V2X communications – meaning networked wireless communications between vehicles, the infrastructure (roadside units and traffic control centres) and passengers’ personal communications devices. A vehicle can broadcast data describing its position, movements and manoeuvres – and share this with other vehicles to prevent collisions, and with the infrastructure to optimise traffic control.

The ability to send and receive this data enables intelligent vehicle systems to integrate information from navigation systems with data from on-board sensors and information received from the infrastructure. This provides vehicle systems with an awareness of its immediate surroundings, including areas which may not be visible to the driver – which can be used to assist the driver to drive more safely. If the vehicle systems anticipate an accident they can, as a minimum, prepare safety systems and, perhaps, intervene to prevent an accident.

The technologies needed to implement a connected and Cooperative Vehicles (CV) environment fall into four separate components:

  • on-board equipment;
  • vehicle sensor technologies;
  • roadside equipment;
  • communications network.

On-board Equipment (OBE)

The OBE are:

  • the equipment inside the vehicle with which the drivers will interact;
  • and the technologies needed to provide vehicle-based information for use within CV applications.

Some of the vehicle-based information can be obtained from GPS or other similar sensors (for example location, speed, and direction), whereas other information (for example acceleration, instantaneous fuel consumption, anti-lock brakes activation, wiper status) may be obtained from vehicle engine scanning tools and other systems monitoring the vehicle’s different subsystems.

Vehicle sensor technologies

Connected vehicles are instrumented with a wide range of sensor technologies to enable applications aimed at improving safety and efficiency – including:

  • position sensors such as GPS or Inertial Navigation Systems (INS)
  • speed and braking sensors;
  • vehicle proximity sensors that can also measure the distance or headway between the subject vehicle and the car in front or behind;
  • sensors able to detect sleepy or incapacitated drivers (these typically use video cameras and sophisticated video image processing/pattern recognition algorithms);
  • near-and far-distance obstacle detection sensors based on either LIDAR (LIght Detection And Ranging) or radar technologies to identify hazardous situations or imminent collisions – to warn the driver and take evasive actions to prevent the collision.

ROADSIDE equipment

Roadside units and equipment are infrastructure systems that communicate with vehicles and collect data from the vehicle. Roadside equipment can support infrastructure-based applications – or applications involving co-operation between vehicles and the infrastructure (such as intersection collision avoidance systems, and eco-signals which inform approaching vehicles about the remaining green-light time to enable drivers to adjust their speed). Roadside equipment also supports remote applications by communicating information collected from the vehicles to a central location for processing. They also may help support the security and integrity of cooperative vehicle systems.


The communications network is the infrastructure needed to provide connectivity between vehicles (V2V), between vehicles and the infrastructure (V2I), and between roadside equipment and other parts of the system (V2X). Wireless communications are required for V2V and V2I communications, whereas roadside equipment may use wireless or wired networks.

The Connected Vehicles Initiative – USA

In the USA, the focus has been on using Dedicated Short-Range Communications (DSRC) for cooperative vehicle systems. Similar to Wi-Fi, DSRC is an open-source protocol for wireless communication. However, the big difference is that DSRC is intended for highly secure and high-speed communications – features that are critical for safety applications. DSRC has the following beneficial features:

low latency (as low as 0.02 seconds)

robustness in the face of interference

dedicated bandwidth protection (depending on bandwidth allocations in the country concerned)

In the USA, in 2004, the Federal Communications Commission, dedicated 75 MHz of bandwidth at 5.9 GHz, to be used for the Cooperative Vehicles initiative.


The rapid progress in mobile telecommunications means that the connected vehicle is no longer a research concept but a reality. Applications fall into four different, but not necessarily separate, categories:

connected vehicle safety applications – examples include driver advisories, driver warnings, and vehicle and/or infrastructure controls (See Driver Support);

connected vehicle mobility applications that use real-time data. The data are transmitted to vehicles wirelessly and are used by information service providers to broadcast current traffic conditions for satellite navigation systems. Data obtained from connected vehicles also has value for network management activities and for traffic engineers to optimise the performance of the transport system (See Probe Vehicle Measurements);

connected vehicle environmental applications that use real-time data from vehicles to support the development, operation, and use of "green" transport applications (See Smart Network Operations);

commercial applications that enhance the way business is conducted and open up new market areas – such as location-based added value services (See Location Based Services).

Reference sources

PIARC - FISITA Joint Task Force (2012) The Connected Vehicle. Report 2012R02 World Road Association (PIARC) Paris. ISBN 978-2-84060-246-6. Available from the Internet site of the World Road Association and from the International Federation of Automotive Engineering Societies (FISITA).

World Road Association Technical Committee on Road Network Operations (2016). Cooperative Vehicle Highway Systems. Report 2016R08 World Road Association (PIARC) Paris. ISBN 978-2-84060-386-3. Available from the Internet site of the World Road Association.