August 28, 2014

Excitement Builds for ITS World Congress in Wake of Proposed V2X Rulemaking

By Brian Daugherty

NHTSA and the U.S. Department of Transportation have been quite busy since February, when they announced plans to proceed with rulemaking to require V2X (Vehicle-to-Vehicle, Vehicle-to-Infrastructure, etc.) communication hardware in future U.S. light vehicles. This will be a hot topic at the upcoming Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) World Congress in Detroit.

On Aug. 18, NHTSA followed up its February announcement with an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) that officially gets the process started. This is an important step as the industry moves toward V2X implementation in the U.S.  At the same time, NHTSA released a research report titled “Vehicle to Vehicle Communications: Readiness of V2V Technology for Application,” covering many aspects of V2X technology including readiness, cost and accident-reduction assessments. The report also summarizes the work that still needs to be done. Both the ANPRM and the research report can be accessed here. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and NHTSA are expected to announce similar plans covering heavy vehicles later this year.

In the near future, the FCC is expected to decide whether to share the V2X 5.9 GHz spectrum with unlicensed Wi-Fi® devices. There is concern that interference from these devices could result in blocked or delayed V2X message transmissions that might negatively impact preventable accidents. As we move toward rulemaking and eventual deployment, it is imperative that the V2X 5.9 GHz spectrum remain dedicated to transportation safety uses. 

On Sept. 7, the 21st ITS World Congress will descend on Detroit. In addition to the panel discussions and booth displays, technology demonstrations will be offered on some city streets and nearby Belle Isle. This follows last year’s excellent World Congress in Tokyo, which had a strong emphasis on vehicle-to-vehicle communication and automated/autonomous driving.  

Both of those themes will continue and V2X communications will again be prominently featured among many intelligent transportation technologies, ranging from toll systems and roadway monitoring to advanced intersection sensors and controls.  

Visteon is presenting our V2X system as part of a ride-and-drive Technology Showcase on Belle Isle. The demonstration highlights three applications that provide warnings to drivers: Obstructed Stopped Vehicle Ahead, Emergency Braking Ahead and Slippery Road Conditions Ahead. All three will present information to the driver using an integrated cockpit approach. Visteon also will have an exhibit in booth 801 at Cobo Center, displaying a range of advanced technologies including connected vehicle and infotainment demonstrations.

If you are attending the ITS World Congress, I invite you to visit our booth and our ride-and-drive to experience how V2X and connectivity can improve the safety and convenience of future vehicles. 

Brian Daugherty is an associate director at Visteon Corporation and has global responsibilities for corporate advanced development and intellectual property. Recent projects in his 23-year career include V2X communications, advanced driver awareness systems (ADAS) and the optimization of Visteon’s patent portfolio. Based at Visteon’s corporate offices and innovation center in Van Buren Township, Mich., Daugherty also manages a number of industry and university partnerships.

June 17, 2014

Watching Out for You

By Paul Morris

Cameras are being used in more vehicles every day, and while most current applications look "outward" (like rear-view camera or lane-departure-warning) newer implementations will face "inward" – capturing views of the driver, passengers and cargo. Visteon has been developing driver monitoring applications and recently introduced the "HMEye" demonstration concept.  The name HMEye is a play on the term Human Machine Interaction (HMI) combined with Eye-Tracking.  The concept uses eye-tracking cameras and software that allow the driver to interact with some vehicle controls.

Some in-vehicle camera products available today provide features like drowsy and distracted driver monitoring.  These cameras observe the driver’s eyelid opening, blink rate or head position.  Most of these vehicles use a single camera and some type of infra-red (IR) illumination to work during the day or at night.  For example, Lexus offers a driver monitoring system as part of its Pre-Collision Safety Package and other companies offer aftermarket solutions for large truck fleets.

Near Future
For a system to monitor the driver, it needs to be positioned in front of the driver’s face, which is why wearable trackers can be advantageous (see image below of a wearable tracker).  However, drivers usually won’t be wearing a tracker, so a camera with IR flash system needs to be mounted in the direction the driver intends to use it. Typically, it will be affixed in the forward-looking direction, but could also be positioned to the side, depending on the range of eye/head movement the system is designed to track. Low-cost integrated trackers will be limited in vehicles, because they usually are only configured for a single display on a desktop. The main challenge for the vehicle interior designer will be to package the cameras and flash units in a way that is optically functional, but also aesthetically pleasing.

Once enough camera and flash coverage is provided, a higher-accuracy gaze-tracking function can be added to enable features like gaze-controlled HMI. This feature is demonstrated on Visteon’s HMEye demonstration property. These features would be in addition to the base drowsy and distracted driver features mentioned above.

Further Out
There are many interesting scenarios when capabilities like computer vision with artificial intelligence (AI) are added. Think about the vehicle as an “attentive mobility assistant” that always focuses on its customers: the driver, passengers and cargo in the vehicle. In the past, the vehicle only responded to the sense of touch (a button press, etc.).  A few years ago it evolved into hearing (via microphones) and can now understand vocal commands. Vehicles are integrating sight (via cameras), which initially will be poor, but will improve over time as they are developed to recognize new objects and behaviors. A vehicle will see externally (e.g. pedestrian detection) and internally (e.g. driver monitoring) and will begin to learn patterns from good drivers and share them with drivers who need more help. The system will aid the transition between driver-control and autonomous-control and have context and situational awareness that allows it to adapt its behaviors appropriately. Many new opportunities will emerge as vision technologies continue to develop.

Paul Morris is an innovation project manager in Visteon Electronics. During his 20-plus years in the aerospace and automotive industries, he has applied his electronics, software and systems engineering experience to a variety of projects, from GPS satellites to air pressure sensors. His recent work has ‘focused’ on camera and vision systems for automotive applications.

May 20, 2014

The Connected Vehicle in the Internet of Things

By Rob Cadena

It has been predicted that by 2020, there will be 75 billion connected devices – about 10 devices for every person on earth. This eye-opening statistic prompted me to understand how many devices I manage already. To my surprise, I already own or manage 21 fully connected devices and 12 partially connected devices, as shown in the diagram below. Not surprisingly, I am astounded by the amount of time and effort it takes to keep all of these devices up to date and communicating properly. Today’s reality imposes a huge cognitive load on consumers, who just want their devices to work and to communicate with each other through the cloud.

Internet of Rob’s Things

Vehicles Need to be Connected

The amount of time that people spend in their vehicles is too significant for them to be disconnected while driving. How many times have you been stuck in traffic wondering if there was a faster way to get to your destination?  Wouldn’t you like to access your music, news and social connections the same way as on your smartphone? Wouldn’t you want your car to update itself easily and automatically without visiting a dealership?

Because the population of connected vehicles is too small, app designers haven’t yet focused on automotive applications --- but once the vehicle becomes connected, the industry will start to see some of the coolest vehicle apps.

Vehicle Interconnection with Mobile Devices is Key

Not only do vehicles need to be connected, but they need to interact with the other devices you already own. When the vehicle cloud is connected to your device cloud and your home cloud, the possibilities are staggering. When I reviewed my personal Internet of Things, shown in the diagram, I noticed the best applications work across the PC, phone and tablet platforms – allowing me to continue using an app or service on one device exactly where I left off earlier on a different device. I am able to configure preferences and settings easily on a PC and apply them to the service running on any device. However, my television Blu-Ray players, satellite and audio/video receivers interact only to their manufacturer’s cloud using a clumsy built-in user interface. To improve this experience for the vehicle owner, carmakers will allow you to configure your vehicle’s preferences using a mobile device app or website. Vehicles must be able to interact with today’s consumer apps and those that will be released over the next 10 years.

To discuss the “Internet of vehicle things” with me further, catch me at the GENIVI All Members’ meeting May 20-23 in Gothenburg, Sweden, where I will showcase our OpenAir infotainment systems, or at Telematics Update Detroit on June 4-5, where I will participate on a panel discussing vehicle Internet of Things opportunities.

Rob Cadena is infotainment manager and a technical fellow at Visteon, responsible for leading infotainment development. Rob has been involved in the design and development of automotive audio and infotainment systems for 14 years. He received a master’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Michigan, with a concentration in digital signal processing. Rob is an avid triathlete, musician and Detroit Lions fan.