top street view with pedestrians and cars
Achieving full autonomy requires more than just sensors. This is why cooperative driving technologies may have the real potential to inch the world closer to Level 5 (or full) autonomy. Image: Autocrypt

The public is skeptical of the effectiveness of self-driving vehicles, but the fear stems from a gap in understanding the difference between autonomous vehicles and integrated driver assist technology

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This article is partner content presented by Autocrypt.

If you’ve read the news lately, chances are you have seen headlines about a dubious accident or dire buyer-beware on autonomous vehicles. Like for many others, these stories may be giving you cause for concern.

Doubts in autonomous viability are growing after recent reports on self-driving vehicles disrupting traffic and causing car crashes. A 2023 survey by AAA revealed that 68 per cent of American drivers are afraid of autonomous vehicles. That’s a 13 per cent increase since last year. A similar study by CarGurus in 2021 showed that 10 per cent of Canadians are concerned about autonomous vehicle development.

But, this is where the misunderstanding lies.

Fact: there are currently no fully autonomous vehicles available on the market. Instead, most current autonomous driving technologies are enabled by advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS).

The emphasis is on “assist”. The main function of ADAS is to help drivers, not necessarily take over their task.

ADAS utilizes sensors like cameras, radar and LiDAR to observe and collect visual cues from vehicle surroundings. These advanced sensors enable ADAS features such as collision avoidance, lane centring and cruise control.

ADAS offers features that enable a certain level of autonomy in vehicles, but the technology is still imperfect and cannot replace a human driver — yet.

V2X, autonomous and cooperative driving

The common misconception is that driver assist technologies are synonymous with self-driving and do not require supervision. The misleading nomenclature of driver assist features, such as “Full Self-Driving,” “Autopilot,” or “ProPILOT” (to name a few), suggests full autonomy. But they aren’t.

Achieving full autonomy requires more than just sensors. This is why cooperative driving technologies may have the real potential to inch the world closer to Level 5 (or full) autonomy.

Cooperative driving is enabled by vehicle-to-everything (V2X) wireless network communications that transmit data from vehicles-to-vehicles (V2V), from vehicles-to-infrastructure (V2I) and from vehicles-to-pedestrians (V2P).

With V2X, onboard sensors collect vehicle driving data like speed and location and transmit that information to surrounding road users. Vehicle computing units process the transmitted data to alert their drivers of potential hazards. Road infrastructure elements like traffic lights can communicate signals to nearby cars, for example, alerting them on traffic light changes.

Micro-mobility users and pedestrians can also join the V2X infrastructure by utilizing personal mobile devices as V2X connectivity units.

One of the main benefits associated with the development of a V2X network is road safety. Open communication between various actors on the roads allows for a more comprehensive assessment of road conditions which helps avoid accidents.

Consider this: a pedestrian is approaching a crosswalk from a vehicle’s blind spot. The pedestrian may not be visible to the driver or on the car’s camera. This puts everyone at a risk. However, if both the vehicle and the pedestrian are equipped with a V2X unit, the vehicle’s on-board unit will be aware of the approaching person and make sure to avoid collision.

V2X technology has the potential to improve safety for vulnerable road users by providing vehicles with better situational awareness. By reducing the risk of collisions, V2X can help create a safer and more efficient, autonomous transportation system for everyone.

Top street view demostrating V2X technology in relation to collision avoidance
Side-by-side comparison of how a traffic scenario is navigated with and without V2X technology. Image: Autocrypt

V2X technology also plays a crucial role in optimizing signal phase and timing (SPaT) at intersections. By enabling vehicles to communicate with traffic signal controllers, V2X can provide real-time data on traffic flow, speed and volume. This data can help to adjust signal timing and improve traffic efficiency.

Adaptive signal control systems can also consider other factors, such as pedestrian crossings, emergency vehicles and transit vehicles to optimize signal timing and prioritize certain movements over others. This can help improve safety and efficiency for all users of the transportation system.

Top street view demostrating V2X technology in relation to traffic lights
An example of how V2X technology helps streamline traffic. Image: Autocrypt

Current V2X use cases

Despite being a recent technology, V2X is already appearing in intersection collision avoidance where roadside cameras monitor movement at intersections and detect traffic rule violations.

It’s also being used in smart parking. Vehicle-to-infrastructure communications match the supply and demand for parking spaces in real-time. Parking lot sensors send availability notifications to nearby vehicles, allowing drivers to swiftly navigate to the nearest parking space.

Overall, V2X communications and smart parking are promising advancements in urban transportation that can significantly improve the driving experience and contribute to a more sustainable future.

Since vehicles rely on V2X messages to make accurate decisions, the validity of these messages is critical to road safety and the functionality of cooperative autonomous driving. Message validity and network security are priorities in order to deliver on the promise of V2X-enabled road safety.

AUTOCRYPT utilizes message encryption, validity inspection and data scanning to safeguard V2X messages transmitted through the network.

Autonomous driving technologies have the potential to minimize human error-caused accidents on the roads and ensure transportation safety. Fears about the technology come from the misconception that driver assist features are a preview to what fully autonomous vehicles will be like.

However, V2X technology can actually curb the fears surrounding autonomous driving. Cooperative autonomous driving enabled by V2X communications and used alongside ADAS features will ensure deployment of safe advanced autonomous vehicles in the future.