According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about 1.3 million people die each year due to traffic accidents. In fact, traffic accidents are the leading cause of death globally for people ages 5–29. In addition, between 20 million and 50 million people a year are involved in non-fatal accidents. The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that vehicle-to-everything (V2X) technology could reduce these traffic accidents.
Some factors that can cause traffic accidents include hazards on the road, extreme weather events and speeding. V2X helps support the transfer of vital information between various moving parts of the traffic system, including cars, trucks, buses, bikers and pedestrians. Because this information is collected using omnidirectional sensors with 360 degrees of coverage and governmental agencies, the data is highly accurate and verified.
Ideally, V2X can improve the driving experience by boosting safety, saving time, easing traffic congestion and conserving energy. Although it is still in its infancy, manufacturers have already started incorporating some aspects of V2X technology.
What Is V2X?
V2X communication systems enable drivers to receive real-time communication that is highly relevant to the driving experience. It allows drivers to communicate with other drivers and the infrastructure around them, including vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communication systems.
V2V relies on other cars, trucks, and buses, while V2I relies on connected streetlights, lane markers, cameras, signage and more. Vehicle sensors and infrastructure help send highly accurate information to other drivers. Not all vehicles involved need to be connected, but it is more effective as more vehicles and infrastructure have these capabilities. Also, autonomous vehicles with V2X technology have additional information to provide to the navigation system, promoting the safety of such vehicles.
Let’s say there is a severe storm on its way, a dead animal on the road, or a pedestrian or biker that isn’t within the line of sight of the driver. The onboard communication system will notify the driver with an audible or visual alert.
Then, drivers can adapt accordingly to a given hazard, potentially avoiding accidents. If drivers have a better sense of when traffic lights will turn green or red, they can drive more efficiently by modifying their speed. This can ease traffic congestion and boost fuel economy and can even incorporate complimentary energy technologies such as bidirectional charging, which allows electric vehicles to transfer battery power back to the grid.
The U. S. Department of Energy (DOE) and its partners recently announced the V2X Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which will bring together resources from DOE, DOE national labs, governments, utility companies and corporations to evaluate the feasibility of integrating bidirectional charging capabilities into energy infrastructure. The MOU also addresses cybersecurity and privacy in V2X charging infrastructure, which is a top concern.
Different Types Of V2X Applications
There are numerous different V2X technologies in various stages of development. Some of these are in their infancy but are likely to grow in popularity in the future.
V2V communication enables automatic wireless communication regarding speed, direction, and position and notifies drivers if there is risk of a collision. It could significantly improve on existing vehicle safety features that utilize cameras and radar to identify safety issues.
It will be most effective when all vehicles can communicate with each other, not just the few that currently have the capability. Therefore, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has been working with academic institutions, the auto industry, and other stakeholders for over a decade to further this technology and to promote its life-saving potential.
Numerous vehicle types can benefit from this technology, including cars, buses, motorcycles and more. Eventually, even bicyclists and pedestrians could use V2X to prevent collisions with motorists.
Vehicle-to-grid (V2G) smart charging capabilities enable electric vehicles to transfer energy stored in their battery back to the electrical grid. Bidirectional EVs can charge from the grid and then send power back as needed. V2G capabilities can allow vehicle owners to generate revenue from the energy they feed into the power grid, especially in areas with time-of-use rates. It also helps lower carbon emissions by reducing the need to depend on fossil fuel burning power plants to meet peak energy demand.
Due in part to the rise in demand for electric vehicles, energy demand on the grid is expected to increase in the upcoming decades, but V2G can help counteract spikes in energy demand by providing electric power when it’s needed most. To implement the use of these capabilities, smart technology is needed to enable EVs to power the grid. This involves smart charging stations that use software to communicate with the power grid.
In particular, electric school buses are an excellent application because they are typically only operational for a few hours daily and are often largely unused in the summer when energy demand is typically highest. As a result, Nuvve Holding Corp. offers V2G solutions for electric school buses that includes charging technology and grid services, as an example.
Vehicle-to-building (V2B) capabilities enable buildings to use power from electric vehicle batteries. This energy solution is especially appealing during grid outages when emergency power is needed or as a way for businesses to reduce peak demand charges that drive up energy costs. As corporations increasingly electrify their vehicle fleets to slow climate change and encourage corporate sustainability, the potential applications for V2B also increases.
Vehicle-to-home (V2H) capabilities are similar to V2B, but typically on a smaller scale and apply to homes instead of buildings. Currently, the Nissan Leaf, Nissan e-NV200, and F150 Lightning have such capabilities but the home requires a power control system connected to the home’s electrical distribution center. Then, the vehicle is plugged into the charging system to utilize its bidirectional charger capabilities and pull power from the EV energy storage battery.
The amount of power the vehicle can provide depends on the charge level and size of the EV battery. For example, the F150 Lightning has a heavy-duty battery and can deliver 9.6 kW of electricity, whereas the Hyundai Ioniq can supply just 3.6 kW. The EVs can either use the power grid or a solar power system to charge the vehicle.
Vehicle-to-load (V2L) allows vehicles to power electrical loads using energy from the battery. They must have a DC to AC inverter and a standard wall outlet in the vehicle. This application is beneficial on job sites and camping trips that aren’t near the power grid and to power emergency loads during power outages.
One appealing quality of V2L technology is that vehicles don’t need any additional gadgets, like a power control system, to access the power. However, unlike V2B and V2H applications, it doesn’t integrate with the property’s electrical system and provides power only for specific loads.
For example, an EV owner may run an extension cord and plug in their refrigerator to prevent food from spoiling during a blackout. Some EVs already have V2L capabilities, including the Hyundai Ioniq 5, Kia EV6, Ford F150 Lightning, and the Rivian R1T.
What Does V2X Technology Mean For EVs?
V2X capabilities have the potential to impact EVs because they are at the intersection between transportation and the energy industry. A driver can easily find an available charging station if their vehicle can communicate with the surrounding charging infrastructure to deliver power when it is needed most. Also, EVs can help decarbonize the grid and provide backup power during grid outages. These capabilities could impact EV charging infrastructure growth and the spread of bidirectional charging technology.
As Technology Advances, Many Industries Win
Human error causes a staggering 94% of serious traffic accidents, but technology can help overcome this issue. The potential uses for V2X technologies are still being researched and developed, and the sky is the limit. Although the feasibility is there, however, the exact implications and potential benefits of V2X technology is still in the works. Certainly, more work is needed to make driving safer, reduce traffic accidents, and save energy..
Providing drivers with highly relevant and accurate information from other vehicles, stoplights, road signs, and even governmental agencies can reduce accidents and promote greater safety. If drivers know of potential hazards ahead, they can take corrective action. Likewise, if they can predict traffic patterns, they can likely save energy.
The automotive industry is rapidly evolving, and new products are becoming available that change the way households and businesses use energy, prevent collisions and power their vehicles. In addition to saving lives, this can also help promote the use of renewable energy and slow climate change.
To stay current on EV industry developments, read more about EV trends in 2022.