Another significant step on the road to making our dreams of driverless vehicles come true is the recent report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA), which describes the status of vehicle-to-vehicle communications (V2V) as on track to becoming a mandatory feature in new vehicles.
“Vehicle-to-vehicle technology represents the next generation of auto safety improvements, building on the life-saving achievements we’ve already seen with safety belts and air bags,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “By helping drivers avoid crashes, this technology will play a key role in improving the way people get where they need to go while ensuring that the U.S. remains the leader in the global automotive industry.”
V2V technology allows vehicles to “talk” to each other and ultimately avoid crashes by exchanging basic safety data, such as speed and position, 10 times per second. In 2012, the Department of Transportation (DOT) tested the Safety Pilot “model deployment” where nearly 3,000 vehicles were deployed in the largest-ever road test of V2V technology in Michigan. The DOT pilot included testing interoperability of V2V technology among products from different vehicle manufacturers and suppliers and proved that they work in real-world environments.
The V2V technology received high favorability ratings and levels of customer acceptance, according to the NHSTA. Participants indicated they would like to have V2V safety features on their personal vehicles. V2V technology uses the principles of relative navigation in which high accuracy, real-time relative position and orientation data is provided between moving platforms such as manned vehicles or even in unmanned air and ground vehicles. Relative navigation blends the data from single or dual-frequency GPS receivers with an inertial measurement unit (IMU), providing precise positioning and orientation information including relative position, velocity, and attitude.
These high accuracy relative navigation and inertial navigation systems are being developed by companies such as Geodetics, Inc., a California-based company that develops and markets real-time, high-precision positioning and navigation hardware and software solutions for military and civilian applications requiring the highest levels of precision. KVH’s high performance 1750 IMU is used in the high-accuracy, real-time relative positioning and orientation system from Geodetics Inc., the Geo-RelNAV™, as well as in the Geo-iNAV Advanced. Geo-iNav is a fully-integrated GPS-aided inertial navigation system that utilizes KVH’s highly reliable, extremely stable fiber optic gyro IMU to provide a high-performance navigation solution. The 1750 IMU from KVH is readily available and widely used in the commercial market, and delivers precise position and orientation information.
In addition to ground vehicle “sense and avoid” applications, relative navigation technology is also an essential factor for such demanding applications as autonomous aerial refueling, autonomous landing, and collision avoidance. These applications are vital to making it possible for unmanned aerial vehicles to work successfully and safely in commercial airspace.