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Intelligence beats gridlock: VDO gears up for commercial vehicle management in ever denser traffic

  • Intelligent Transport Systems ensure nonstop travel thanks to permanent data exchange
  • New services such as parking space management could save time and stress for drivers

Villingen-Schwenningen/Germany, July, 11 2012. VDO is gearing itself and the haulage industry up for increasingly dense traffic and is moving to counter the impending saturation of Europe's trunk roads with modern intelligence. Driven on the one hand by global vehicle trends, such as the growing need for safety, environmental compatibility, and the increasing demand for information and data exchange, and on the other by the crucial need in the commercial vehicle sector to cut costs and enhance vehicle efficiency, innovative solutions are emerging for Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS), as well as new services that make vehicle operation even more economical, safe and comfortable even on increasingly clogged roads.

All developments under the VDO brand for the commercial vehicle market are taking place against the backdrop of megatrends to which Continental, as a leading automotive supplier, gears its work. For example, it develops products and services aimed at optimizing the safety of drivers and all vehicles types, minimizing the load on the environment and improving information management. Continental is also actively helping to reduce the frequency and severity of accidents, cut CO2 emissions and facilitate the data exchange between the driver, vehicle and infrastructure which is crucial if the new assistance and infotainment systems are to work. All these trends are effective not only in the world of passenger cars, but also in commercial transport. VDO focuses here mainly on solutions which make it possible to minimize costs for commercial vehicle owners and optimize the operation of trucks, vans and buses and the deployment of drivers. By doing so, VDO is making a key contribution to the economic development of the haulage industry, as it can only be profitable if fleets are utilized efficiently and sustainably.

A concept of paramount importance in this connection is that of "Intelligent Transport or Traffic Systems" (ITS). This stands for the networking of all modes of transport and transport operators without barriers and across all borders with the aim of handling transport tasks as quickly, safely, cleanly and economically as possible. Whether private vehicles or group travel, packages or containers, by road, rail, waterway or air, this society-wide approach is all about optimizing travel time and minimizing safety hazards, environmental pollution and costs.

With it, the transport world is responding to a number of virtually unavoidable factors which are set to influence traffic even more strongly in future: Fossil energy reserves are limited, awareness of climate change and environmental pollution is increasing, the economic pressure on all the partners involved in ITS are growing, and traffic routes are reaching saturation point. New road construction projects are difficult to realize, as are projects for additional airport runways or new rail lines.

Intelligent Transport Systems therefore aim to use existing resources as efficiently as possible thanks to the electronic management of traffic flows and a supply of comprehensive information to all users of the transport channels. This ranges from intelligent changing of means of transport and farsighted and adaptive route planning right through to warnings of serious hazards.

This calls for far-reaching, thorough networking of all the means of transportation and their users, as well as of infrastructure. Infrastructure data about the weather, traffic situation and route profiles must all be available in an ITS control center, together with vehicle data indicating fuel consumption, speed, driver behavior or tire pressure. This information is then analyzed and exchanged at very different speeds – from radio broadcasts of traffic reports at half-hourly intervals to ad hoc signals transmitted within a few milliseconds to warn of an imminent accident.

Virtually all the technical means of achieving this already exist: VDO has access to all vehicle data and, through Continental, also participates in numerous research projects on what is known as car-to-car and car-to-X communications. What is still lacking, however, are uniform standards, which are the only means of ensuring that this information is exploited in a meaningful way. Only if politicians and industry provide for clearly defined interfaces and standardized formats and all transportation users then really speak the same language will it be possible to optimize existing traffic routes, cut transport costs, minimize travel time and reduced pollution: Nonstop travel through nonstop data exchange – that is the vision of the ITS developers.

VDO supports this process of standardization and is one of the driving forces behind it. This is why its developers are not standing idly by, waiting to see the outcome of political and social processes. Instead, using the available technologies and in response to acute transport issues here and now, they are already generating products and services that can be built into Intelligent Transport Systems.

One already very concrete vision is parking space management, which addresses one of the most urgent problems of long-distance freight haulage: In situations where truck drivers, searching for an unoccupied parking spot or rest area, today regularly exceed their allowed driving time yet still end up parking in hazardous places (for them and other road users), such as on the hard shoulder or in entrances and exits, this VDO vision is a means of enhancing safety and convenience and using existing parking capacity efficiently.

As a first step, it would be conceivable to provide automatic information to the driver about all parking areas. Long before his route planning is jeopardized, he would then receive a message about possible parking areas along the way. As a second step, and if the infrastructure data was available, the ITS solution from VDO could simultaneously provide information as to whether and where there were still unoccupied spaces in those parking areas. The more information VDO provides about individual parking and rest areas, the easier the choice for the driver. He might in the near future be able to find out while still at the wheel whether the indicated parking area has sanitary or catering facilities or offers vehicle servicing. Assuming that data could be exchanged between the vehicle and infrastructure, the driver would be able to reserve his parking space while still en route at the push of a button. This would eliminate inefficient detours that cost time and fuel as the drivers hunt for parking spaces. Other road users would no longer be hindered by illegally parked trucks, and the driver would be sure of finding a safe and convenient place to park.

This is just one of many examples showing how intelligent data and traffic management by VDO can help all parties in future – from the driver to the haulage contractor and the other road users as well.

Dr. Michael Ruf, Executive Vice President Commercial Vehicles & Aftermarket at Continental on the subject of ITS:
"Efficiency determines the commercial vehicle business, and fleet operation must be extremely profitable. The products of the VDO brand stand for precisely this efficiency and are prepared accordingly for the future. Our company thus offers a broad portfolio of products and services which address the topic of ITS and make vehicles safer, more economical, and more environment-friendly as well, and at the same time enable the exchange of relevant information between infrastructure and vehicle. With the products from VDO, you're 'ITS-ready' today. Both our digital tachograph and new products like parking space management are proof of this."



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