Volkswagen's local hazard warning Car2X safety tech wins Euro NCAP award

by Autocar Pro News Desk , 18 Mar 2020

Euro NCAP has recognised Volkswagen’s ‘Local Hazard Warning’ Car2X system with an ‘Advanced’ award.

Volkswagen’s car-to-x communication system becomes the first technology to be rewarded by Euro NCAP in nearly six years. The technology, fitted as standard to the Golf 8 and to future ID models, allows cars to communicate with each other and with properly equipped road infrastructure and emergency vehicles to give the driver advanced warning of local safety hazards. 

Using ITS-G5 technology, cars equipped with the system can transmit a signal to others if they have broken down or have stopped suddenly and present a safety risk.  Other manufacturers are also considering equipping their vehicles with ITS-G5 technology and, in time, it may be possible for drivers to receive advance warning of motorcycles and tractors.

Secretary General of Euro NCAP, Michiel van Ratingen, said, “This is an exciting area of safety and one which offers the potential to help road users who have, so far, been difficult to protect, like motorcyclists. It is already on Euro NCAP’s roadmap but its full potential will not be realised until many vehicles are equipped with a compatible system, along with roadside hazards. Volkswagen is to be congratulated for making the technology standard on high-selling vehicles like the Golf."

How Car2X works
Car2X communication helps the car it is fitted on to communicate with other vehicles and traffic infrastructure in the vicinity to exchange information relevant to the traffic situation, within a radius of up to 800 metres. This information is exchanged within milliseconds.

Benefitting from the application of a harmonised Car2X standard (Wi-Fi p/ITS G5) within the European Union (EU) that is valid for all manufacturers, it is possible to transfer information between vehicles of all brands as well as the infrastructure within all EU member states. This 'common language' is a crucial requirement to cut the number of road traffic accidents throughout all countries. Thanks to Car2X, drivers are notified and warned of local traffic hazards.

Volkswagen Local Hazard Warning is a system that uses short-range communication between cars, and between a car and its surroundings, to give drivers early warning of safety hazards. For example, a car equipped with Local Hazard Warning might issue a warning to other vehicles if it had broken down in the middle of a carriageway or had been involved in a collision. Similarly, emergency vehicles equipped with such a system might send a signal to nearby vehicles to warn them of their presence, or temporary roadwork barriers could issue such warnings. As well as transmitting such warnings, cars equipped with Local Hazard Warning can also receive these signals and use them to alert the driver to the danger.

The warnings that can be issued and received are:
- Safety System active in vehicle ahead, e.g., Emergency Electronic Brake Light (EEBL), Automatic Emergency Break (AEB) or reversible occupant restraint system intervention
- Stationary Vehicle
- Broken-Down Vehicle
- Accident 
- End of Traffic Jam
- Roadworks
- Stationary Emergency Vehicle
- Dynamic Emergency Vehicle

Signals to the driver start as information if the situation is not critical, depending on the nature of the event and/or the distance to it. If the distance decreases and the situation becomes critical, the information is replaced by a warning in most cases. Critical events can also directly generate a warning without prior information.

Local Hazard Warning uses an automotive, optimized variant of WLAN technology known as 'ETSI ITS-G5' which operates in an allocated and protected frequency range. The direct vehicle-to car/infrastructure communication means that information and warnings are always available to those cars equipped with the system as it does not rely on a phone network.

According to Euro NCAP, which has tested the tech in a variety of scenarios, says the benefits of a system like Volkswagen’s Local Hazard Warning, using car-to-car/infrastructure communication, depends critically on the number of cars which are equipped with it or with a compatible system.

Volkswagen will equip future models with the system as standard, representing a large number of vehicles. Nevertheless, it will take time to become commonplace in the vehicle fleet as the average age of vehicles driven in Europe is more than 11 years. In the meantime, according to Europ NCAP, it is difficult to quantify the safety benefit. It is expected to be disproportionate to the numbers of cars equipped with the system, as the prompt reaction of one driver has positive knock-on effects on others.