Cyclists are one of the most vulnerable groups of our roads. Every year in Spain, an average of 70 and 7,400 are killed due to a traffic accident. A new road risk warning system based on the Internet of things and mobile connectivity could help reduce these figures. It is a novel solution that we have been able to try with the former professional cyclist Perico Delgado.
For many, the bike is more than a sport. It is a lifestyle. A way to live those Sundays with friends of the club. To get up at dawn to train. The illusion to overcome, to reach a new goal.
But there are also hours and hours on secondary roads, living with the risk, with the possibility of having an accident. Because almost all cycling fans have suffered at some time in their lives, either directly or through a partner, the experience of a traffic accident.
An IoT solution for accident prevention
Most accidents occur with the involvement of a vehicle and on secondary roads, in which cyclists are one of the most vulnerable groups. Fortunately, technology has a lot to say in terms of road safety.
We have verified this in a pilot of the IoT System for warning of road risks, which has given us great clues as to where the mobility of the future will go and that we have done in Robledillo de la Jara (Madrid), together with the former professional cyclist Slim Parakeet . It is a solution created jointly by the DGT, Telefónica, SEAT, Aeorum, and Ficosa to provide drivers with assisted driving that increases their safety, by receiving notices in advance about obstacles to be found on the road. Specifically, the pilot has been tested for cases of a cyclist and a vehicle parked on the shoulder. It is a solution created jointly by the DGT, Telefónica, SEAT, Aeorum, and Ficosa to provide drivers with assisted driving that increases their safety, by receiving notices in advance about obstacles to be found on the road. Specifically, the pilot has been tested for cases of a cyclist and a vehicle parked on the shoulder.
The first thing that catches our attention is immediacy. If we talk about accident prevention, the immediacy of communication with the vehicle is essential. But how do you get it? Leticia López, an expert in Vehicular Communications of Telefónica tells us that “ what makes this solution possible are incredible advances in mobile connectivity. Both at the capacity level, especially at the upload liLeticia reveals where is the key that makes this type of critical communications possible with the immediate response: “The fundamental factor lies in the MEC. MEC is the acronym for Multi-Acess Edge Computing, which means network edge computing. It is about bringing the servers, services, content, and applications very close to the user. In this way, the data journey is much less than if the server was in the cloud, and we managed to reduce latencies. In addition, we are adding intelligence to the edge of the network, and at the latency level ”.
The concept of edge computing clearly breaks with the current architecture of mobile networks that we all know, which is cloud computing, where servers are in very distant data centers. Real-time communication would not be possible if the drone sent the images to a server located, for example, in Iceland and the result of its analysis had to travel back to Robledillo de la Jara to inform the driver.
Instead of a single server, in edge computing, the servers multiply looking for proximity to the place where the user is located. “We will have several servers distributed geographically. MEC is one of the great pillars of future 5G networks and the good news is that we can store also wonder how it is possible for the MEC to be able to distinguish between a cyclist, a stationary car or any other obstacle. And, again, the answer is in technology. The processing capacity of the MEC that Leticia talks about is based in this case on an artificial vision system capable of identifying what type of risk it is, and machine learning capabilities that enable the training of the system to learn, evolve and be increasingly precise. This system, as well as the drone, is contributed in this solution by the Malaga- based company Aeorum rt deploying it already in today’s networks, 4G, ”explains Leticia.
Luis tells us about the possibilities of this solution: “The obstacles we identify are now a traveling cyclist or a broken-down stopped car, but we could train the system to identify animals, pedestrians or landslides on the road. A great advantage of this solution is that it is very versatile. Right now we have a camera in a drone and we are taking aerial images, but that camera can be fixed. For example, in an urban environment, cameras can be placed on traffic lights or on other infrastructures. With these fixed cameras we could identify pedestrians or other risk situations that may occur in a city. ”
The last link in this technological solution is the connected car, which receives the alerts sent by the MEC. César de Marco, responsible for the SEAT 5G Connected Car Project, uses a very illustrative simile of what a connected car means to a driver: “From a safety point of view, it is to provide the driver with a sixth sense. So we inform you predictively of what is happening in your environment. And that will help the driver to make his decisions: stop, accelerate, stop the vehicle …, in the face of a possible danger ”.
“Imagine a road in a rural environment, a winding road,” he continues. “I do not see what is happening behind the curve, but the system will warn me: be careful when you turn you will find something. In this case, this something is something that is connected: a bicycle, a car parked because it is broken… ”.
The car is connected to the MEC through an electronic unit incorporated in the vehicle called TCU, an acronym for Telematic Control Unit, a device supplied by Ficosa. César uses a simile again to help understand it: “We can compare it to something we all have, which is a mobile phone. A mobile phone has an electronics inside that is connected to the telephone network. In the car, we do exactly the same. Inside the vehicle, we have an electronic unit that also, through antennas, connects to the MEC ”.
With this, the car can communicate with the environment. But, as Leticia explains well, “in addition to communicating, in addition to speaking, they have to be understood, they have to speak the same language and this language is the one defined by C-V2X.”
The driver receives the information through the instrument panel, in the form of a visual and acoustic warning with a message: “Attention, a cyclist” or “Attention, an obstacle”, which would be the car parked on the road. “All this type of proof of concept that we are doing of the connected car – adds César – we frame it within the vision that we have from SEAT of ‘mission zero accidents’ and we see it as the first steps to what we know as the autonomous vehicle. First, we need to have all the information of the ecosystem connected and from there it will be the machine that can make decisions, to go to that future autonomous car ”.
A bet form the DGT to avoid accidents
Rubén López, Head of the DGT Air Media Unit , tells us about the involvement of the DGT in this pilot and emphasizes the need to protect the most vulnerable groups: “The DGT is fully involved in this project, it has hopes placed on having a drone capable of integrating these groups, such as cyclists, pedestrians, into this cloud of connectivity that alerts other drivers, other users of traffic lanes to their presence ”.
The drone has great potential for the DGT, as Rubén shows: “We have a network of conventional roads of more than 165,000 kilometers. Where we do not arrive with helicopters, we want to use drones as a compliment. In sections of risk, the concentration of accidents, black spots, protected areas of cyclists … there we will allocate a drone. On a road like the one we find, a conventional road with only one road, where more than 70% of accidents are involved in which a cyclist is involved, drones will certain
Rubén is firm in stating that “without a doubt, a solution like the one we are testing will help the benefit of road safety. “
The IoT road hazard warning system is, today, a solution in the testing phase, but sooner or later it will become a reality. It is the mobility of the future, connected and sustainable mobility that will increase the safety of our roads.
A future in which, if we all work together, we will contribute to fewer and fewer accidents among fans of this wonderful sport.
ly be a perfect tool to protect cyclists and other groups ”.