Audi has been a leader in developing vehicle-to-infrastructure technology, with some production Audis capable of receiving information from properly equipped traffic lights about timing. The company is continuing development in these areas, referred to as vehicle-to-everything (V2X), with a system in Georgia that will provide advanced alerts about active school zones and stopped school buses.
The automaker is one of a few companies testing the system, the others including Qualcomm, Commsignia, Applied Information, Blue Bird, Alpharetta, Georgia, and the Fulton County School District. The idea is really simple. School zone signs and school bus stop signs are fitted with transmitters that send out signals stating that they're in effect: either the school zone, or the bus being stopped. The signals are sent over 4G LTE and 5G cellular networks on a specially reserved band. When the car, in this case an Audi, picks up that signal, it shows a visual alert and sounds a warning chime to inform the driver.
Although this may seem pretty similar to traffic sign recognition systems that are widely available in cars today, there are some distinct advantages, especially for school bus stops. There are times that buses will stop in an area where they're hidden from some traffic, such as a hilly area, and so drivers won't see the flashing lights and sign until rounding a corner. In a worst case scenario, this could end in a collision between a driver and a kid getting on or off the bus. With the V2X system, the bus and car can provide warnings that aren't visually obstructed. The same advantage comes up in bad weather or low light conditions when visibility may be worse and both the driver and on-board cameras aren't seeing well.
Right now, the system is only being tested in this city in Georgia. On Audi's end, the company is testing the system for general functionality, as well as figuring out ideal time frames for alerting drivers when a signal is received. It's also only implemented on specially-equipped Audi test vehicles. The company also noted that developments in this area can support autonomous vehicle research that could heavily rely on V2X systems.
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