Planet M logo

The Technology

Expand All


  1. What are connected vehicles?

    Connected vehicles allow cars to "talk to" each other, the roads they use, and even to pedestrians and cyclist who have mobile devices. Using wireless technologies, these communications support a range of applications that focus on safety, mobility and environmental benefits. Connected vehicles rely on a range of communications systems including dedicated short-range communications (DSRC), global navigation satellite systems (GNSS), cellular technology, and even satellite radio.

  2. How do connected vehicle technologies work?

    Connected vehicle technologies enable all types of vehicles, roadways, other infrastructure, and mobiles devices to communicate and share vital transportation information. The primary communications technology used to support connected vehicle applications is dedicated short-range communications (DSRC), which is similar to Wi-Fi. DSRC was designed for a vehicular environment and includes the security, privacy and performance features necessary to support this environment. Additionally, many vehicles today are already "connected" through cellular technology.

    Connected vehicles have the ability to continually transmit vehicle position, direction, and speed. Imagine a vehicle telling your car that it's turning or putting on the brakes. These communications will enable safety functions, such as collision avoidance and work zone warnings, as well as applications to improve mobility and the environment, such as providing optimal travel speeds to make the green lights ahead. Connected vehicles will also be able to serve as data collectors and anonymously transmit traffic and road condition information to support roadway operations.

  3. Why are connected vehicle technologies needed?

    States must find ways to be smarter about the use of our transportation facilities. Connected vehicle technologies represent a significant opportunity to address these fundamental transportation safety, mobility and environmental challenges faced by travelers and transportation systems managers alike in Michigan. Connected vehicle deployment also sets the foundation for future of automated vehicles.

  4. What types of connected vehicle applications are being developed?

    Connected vehicle technologies are envisioned to ultimately encompass safety applications, mobility applications, and environmental applications.

    • Connected vehicle safety applications would enable vehicles to have 360-degree awareness to inform a vehicle operator of hazards and situations they can't see. These safety applications have the potential to reduce crashes through advisories and warnings. For instance, vehicle operators may be advised of a school zone, sharp ramp curve, or slippery patch of roadway ahead and may be warned in more imminent crash situations, such as during merging operations or if the vehicle ahead stops suddenly. Vehicles can also be warned of bicycles and pedestrians through connected vehicle technology, enhancing the safety of these travel modes.
    • Connected vehicle mobility applications are intended to provide a connected, data-rich travel environment based on information transmitted anonymously from thousands of vehicles that are using the transportation system at a particular time. This information could help transportation managers monitor and manage transportation system performance—for example, by adjusting traffic signals, transit operations, or dispatching maintenance crews or emergency services. This information could also help transportation agencies and fleet operators to manage crews and use resources as efficiently as possible.
    • Providing travelers with real-time information about traffic congestion and other travel conditions helps them make more informed decisions that can reduce the environmental impact of their trip. Informed travelers may decide to avoid congestion by taking alternate routes or public transit, or by rescheduling their trip—all of which can make their trip more fuel-efficient and eco-friendly. The ability for vehicles to "talk to" the infrastructure could provide information to the vehicle operator so that he/she can drive through a traffic signal network at optimum speeds to reduce stopping.
  5. When will connected vehicles become mainstream in Michigan?

    Michigan is a global leader in research and development activities that have allowed for a significant number of connected vehicles, and the supporting technologies, to be tested. According to United States Department of Transportation (USDOT), it is anticipated that further deployment of connected vehicle technologies will occur over the next 20-years as existing infrastructure systems are replaced or upgraded. It is anticipated that by 2040, 80 percent of the intersections in the United States will be transmit information to vehicles, while it is estimated that 90 percent of light vehicles will be sharing information with the roads they use. A number of factors will impact what is expected to be all-encompassing deployment of such technologies:

    • The full commitment of the automotive and truck industries to implement the technology, in response to anticipated rulemaking actions by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA);
    • State, local and regional agencies ability to deploy roadside equipment;
    • Ensuring that possible sharing with other wireless users of the radio-frequency spectrum will not adversely affect the technologies performance;
    • Developing technical standards to ensure nationwide interoperability;
    • Developing and managing data security and addressing public perceptions related to privacy;
    • Ensuring that drivers respond appropriately to warning messages; and
    • Addressing the uncertainties related to potential liability issues.
  6. How will connected vehicles enhance the safety of travel in Michigan?

    According to the NHTSA, in 2014 there were more than 32,000 people killed in vehicle crashes in the United States. According to USDOT, connected vehicles provide the means to potentially address about 81 percent of all-vehicle target crashes; 83 percent of all light-vehicle target crashes; and 72 percent of all heavy-truck target crashes annually. Safety of travelers is the top priority. Connected vehicles provide the opportunity to significantly enhance safety through the reduction of crashes that injure and kill thousands every year. Through the use of technology, alerts will warn travelers of emerging dangerous situations and provide them guidance to avert crashes. As an example, someday motorists will be automatically warned that they are approaching a work zone or some other lane closure at an unsafe speed and need to slow down and switch lanes via an in-vehicle device. These are just some of the many connected vehicle safety applications that are being developed, tested, and deployed in pilot programs that will soon make the roads safer for you and other travelers.

  7. How will connected vehicle enhance mobility in Michigan?

    Increased mobility is one of the main benefits that connected vehicle technology offers. According to the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, traffic congestion in the United States caused drivers to waste more than 3 billion gallons of fuel and kept travelers stuck in their cars for nearly 7 billion extra hours which equates to 42 hours per rush-hour commuter. These delays costs travelers $160 million in lost productivity and wasted fuel nationally. Connected vehicle technology provides transportation agencies the ability to maximize efficiency through real-time management of traffic, transit and parking operations. Those responsible for managing transportation systems can use the data generated by vehicles on the roads and rails, by sensors imbedded in the infrastructure, and by mobile devices such as smartphones to keep traffic flowing smoothly. Further, mobility applications will enable travelers to plan the most efficient, time-saving, and greenest commute.

  8. How will connected vehicles enhance the environment in Michigan?

    Emissions from vehicles are the single largest human-made source of carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and methane. Vehicles that are stationary, idling, and traveling in a stop-and-go pattern due to congestion emit more greenhouse gases than those traveling in free-flow conditions. Connected vehicle technologies enables the capture, processing and distribution of real-time data that can be used to support more environmentally friendly operational decisions, both on the part of transportation system managers and the individual travelers.

    As an example from the perspective of the traveler, an eco-friendly application that adjusts traffic signals to help make fewer stops and starts when driving, would decrease air pollution. Another application would give priority to transit vehicles at intersections, which would increase the number of people passing through an intersection, help transit vehicles adhere to their schedules, and make public transportation more appealing.

  9. How do connected vehicle technologies deliver networked connectivity?

    Connected vehicle applications provide connectivity:

    • Among vehicles to enable crash prevention
    • Between vehicles and the infrastructure to enable safety, mobility and environmental benefits
    • Among vehicles, infrastructure, and wireless devices to provide continuous real-time connectivity to all system users

    Like the Internet, which provides information connectivity, connected vehicle technology provides a starting point for transportation connectivity that will potentially enable countless applications and spawn new industries.