Driver Knowledge Tests

What is V2X and how does it work?

V2X stands for Vehicle-to-Everything. It’s an umbrella term for how a vehicle would communicate or transfer data and power. The concept is that if a vehicle can communicate with each other, with infrastructure and even with other road users such as pedestrians and cyclists, that road safety, traffic efficiency, fuel economy and more can be improved.

V2X comes in several variants:

Vehicle-to-vehicle, or V2V, enables vehicles to exchange information about their position, speed and direction of travel. This enables other vehicles to predict their path and assess them as a potential hazard. For example, an oncoming vehicle that is about to overtake.

Vehicle-to-infrastructure, or V2I, enables vehicles to exchange information with traffic lights, road signs and other infrastructure so that phasing can be optimised for traffic flow, or variable signs can be used to warn other motorists of a hazard.

Vehicle-to-pedestrian, or V2P, enables pedestrians to receive information about the surrounding vehicles. This is useful for cyclists, electric scooter riders and those on foot to understand potential hazards. It has applications for blind pedestrians, too.

Vehicle-to-network, or V2N, is the communication to the network. There are two standards: DSRC (Dedicated Short Range Communication) and C-V2X (Cellular V2X, which works across 4G and 5G networks.)

Vehicle-to-grid, or V2G, is where the power grid uses stored electricity in an electric vehicle to supplement high-demand periods, reducing the need to increase generation capacity. This power is returned to the EV when demand is lower. Power transfer from an EV is also available via Vehicle-to-building (V2B – a method of powering a building, e.g. a car park), Vehicle-to-home (V2H – a method of powering your home), Vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V – a method of recharging other vehicles), Vehicle-to-farm (V2F) and Vehicle-to-load (V2L – a method of plugging electric devices into an EV). This set of functions is related to smart charging and optimising the electricity network.

V2X is in very early stages of development and it would require agreement between all vehicle manufacturers as to the protocol used to transmit and receive the information. It will also take decades to achieve full penetration given that we don’t change our vehicles every year and we are unlikely to retrofit systems to existing vehicles. However, it does have the potential to reduce crashes, reduce congestion and improve fuel economy.

What are the downsides and risks?

It really requires an all-or-nothing approach as the system has limited usefulness at the beginning where very few other vehicles will be communicating between each other, and infrastructure is still be retrofitted.

V2X will create a lot of data which needs to be communicated and stored, and will need technology to enable it to be transmitted and received. All this has an ecological downside in terms of computer hardware required in data centres (i.e. power use), and in the car (extra weight giving a fuel economy penalty).

Darren is an expert on driving and transport, and is a member of the Institute of Advanced Motorists

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