Future Perspective

Intelligent intersection

In the year 2030, drivers will know exactly what to expect around the next corner. The vehicles keep you up to date of what's coming. “By driving at a constant 52 speed of kilometers per hour, you won't hit any red lights right through to the main train station. But watch out for official government visitors. From the next intersection onwards, the traffic lights will stay red for 2 minutes and 15 seconds,” says the car. This smart infrastructure is even able to intervene in the event of a collision course, and activate the brakes accordingly: an important step towards achieving “Vision Zero”.

The intersection of the future recognizes its surroundings and communicates permanently with all road users.

Today, half of the world’s population lives in cities. According to the United Nations (UN), a billion people will be added to this number by 2030, and the already excessive traffic in conurbations will be exacerbated even further. Hence, road traffic safety is set to become a major challenge in the coming decade. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 1.35 million people were killed in road traffic accidents worldwide within the past year. While the number of accident victims decreased in industrialized nations, it rose significantly in poorer countries. It’s pedestrians, motorcyclists, and cyclists who are particularly impacted by this trend. In future, we'll be keeping our eye on all road users and create protective systems at critical points. 

For Continental, there’s no way around the so-called “car-to-X technology,” in which vehicles communicate with surrounding infrastructures. The car of the future is not a closed system, but part of an ecosystem. However, it’s not yet at the level of swarm intelligence. To date, only five percent of vehicles are interconnected. It will not be until after the year 2050 that the total vehicle inventory in regions such as Europe, the United States and Asia will mostly communicate over 5G with other vehicles and the existing infrastructural system.

Together with cooperation partners from industry and academia, Continental experts are working on one very key component of future smart cities: the intelligent intersection. Hundreds of thousands of accidents alone could be avoided if not just modern cars but also intersections were able to recognize their surroundings. Urban hubs are sort of the pinnacle of city traffic planning. Here, cars, buses and trams, trucks, motorcycles and electric motorcycles, bicycles, electric scooters, and pedestrians meet up at different speeds.