Connected vehicle technologies let vehicles and infrastructure communicate directly with each other — using very fast wireless connections.
These technologies will potentially bring considerable safety and efficiency benefits to vehicles. A widely quoted 2010 US Government(external link) study says connected vehicles could address up to 80% of non-impaired crashes. In that study they assumed the vehicles would only warn the drivers to take action, which is why they talk about non-impaired crashes. A separate Australian Study from Austroads and Monash University Accident Research Centre(external link) in Australia estimates potential benefits as a reduction of casualty crashes by 25 – 35% subject to significant take up in the vehicle fleet.
However, for connected vehicles to be used widely in New Zealand, some infrastructure changes would first need to happen.
Other terms for these technologies are Co-operative Intelligent Transport Systems (C-ITS), vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications (V2I) or just vehicles to everything — including things we haven’t thought of yet (V2X). More technical documents also refer to this as Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC).
The video below illustrates connected vehicle possibilities.
Video: From the United States Department of Transportation’s Intelligent Transportation Systems Joint Program Office(external link).
The Ministry of Transport is following the developments in connected vehicle technologies, including co-funding a set of trials. While the C-ITS technology in these trials performed as expected, the trials were not completed, due to lack of willing participants for the operational phase.
Radio Spectrum Allocation and Standards
Connected vehicles are being built in Europe, USA and Japan— all using different standards. All three standards use different radio frequency bands and communications protocols (or ‘languages’).
This means vehicles built to different standards cannot communicate with each other. This fact is particularly challenging for New Zealand, because we import vehicles from all three jurisdictions.
Around half the vehicles entering the New Zealand fleet each year are sold new and are declared to meet European or Australian standards (even if sold by Japanese brands).
Used vehicles make up the other half of vehicles entering our fleet and these are usually from Japan and declared to meet Japanese domestic standards.
In addition, a small number of new and used vehicles declared to US standards enter the fleet.
For more detailed information about where our vehicles come from, see the Ministry of Transport fleet statistics page(external link).
One of the two radio frequencies Japan has proposed using for its domestic vehicle-to-vehicle communications are incompatible with New Zealand frequency allocations. This has implications for New Zealand importing used vehicles from Japan.
Section 4.5 (pages 14-15) of the ITS Action Plan details the Government’s current work programme in this area, and focuses on the need to allocate radio spectrum so it does not cause and is not subject to interference.
Regulatory responsibility for radio spectrum management(external link) lies with the Ministry of Business Innovation and Enterprise (MBIE).