|Objective: This article estimates the safety potential of a current commercially available connected vehicle technology in real-world crashes.
Method: Data from the Centre for Automotive Safety Research's at-scene in-depth crash investigations in South Australia were used to simulate the circumstances of real-world crashes. A total of 89 crashes were selected for inclusion in the study. The crashes were selected as representative of the most prevalent crash types for injury or fatal crashes and had potential to be mitigated by connected vehicle technology. The trajectory, speeds, braking, and impact configuration of the selected in-depth cases were replicated in a software package and converted to a file format allowing “replay” of the scenario in real time as input to 2 Cohda Wireless MK2 onboard units. The Cohda Wireless onboard units are a mature connected vehicle technology that has been used in both the German simTD field trial and the U.S. Department of Transport's Safety Pilot project and have been tuned for low false alarm rates when used in the real world. The crash replay was achieved by replacing each of the onboard unit Global Positioning System (GPS) inputs with the simulated data of each of the involved vehicles. The time at which the Cohda Wireless threat detection software issued an elevated warning was used to calculate a new impact speed using 3 different reaction scenarios and 2 levels of braking.
Results: It was found that between 37 and 86% of the simulated crashes could be avoided, with highest percentage due a fully autonomous system braking at 0.7 g. The same system also reduced the impact speed relative to the actual crash in all cases. Even when a human reaction time of 1.2 s and moderate braking of 0.4 g was assumed, the impact speed was reduced in 78% of the crashes. Crash types that proved difficult for the threat detection engine were head-on crashes where the approach angle was low and right turn–opposite crashes.
Conclusions: These results indicate that connected vehicle technology can be greatly beneficial in real-world crash scenarios and that this benefit would be maximized by having the vehicle intervene autonomously with heavy braking. The crash types that proved difficult for the connected vehicle technology could be better addressed if controller area network (CAN) information is available, such as steering wheel angle, so that driver intent can be inferred sooner. More accurate positioning in the real world (e.g., combining satellite positioning and accelerometer data) would allow the technology to be more effective for near-collinear head-on and rear-end crashes, because the low approach angles that are common in such crashes are currently ignored in order to minimize false alarms due to positioning uncertainty.