RFID to help European Commission cars communicate
Computing | March 7, 2007
Tell the world you have a technology that will save lives and you then have a very successful press campaign.
That was the idea when the European Commission (EC) launched its Intelligent Car System (ICS) initiative in February last year, but many of the spectrum requirements for safety-critical applications are still being ironed out. So the reality is: it may be a while before cars can communicate with each other.
The frequencies being considered for the applications are at 5.9GHz and the hope is that a decision on harmonising the band will be reached some time this year.
The recently adopted RFID decision for spectrum in the 865-868MHz range can be used for any service – but in the context of road applications, it is expected to be used for streamlining administrative processes, rather than safety- critical systems.
Having said that, Japan's National Institute of Information and Communication Technology (NICT) is conducting an experiment with RFID to reduce traffic accidents near intersections. Essentially, the RFID system – still under development – senses the existence and position of pedestrians and sends data to an onboard device that is then conveyed to the driver.
More likely, though, is that RFID will be used to identify stolen vehicles to reduce crime, and improve infrastructure use as well as traffic management and safety.
‘A number of EU member states, for example, are considering the use of RFID-enabled number plates which could aid the recovery of stolen vehicles,' says Helene Delye, an EC spokesperson.
Other proposals include using RFID to collect tolls and monitor traffic flow, including the calculation of the average speed it takes between two points – the information could be used as evidence when a driver has broken the speed limit.
There are also controversial plans under way to fit all vehicles with a tracking device, so that road tax bills can be personalised – the more you drive the more you pay. Good news for governments, bad news for drivers. Where RFID is already widely used on the road is in the car clicker or immobiliser – about 45 million car clickers are sold per annum.
Prospective road use aside, RFID is already applied in the logistics industry for tracking shipments in the supply chain and in ticketing smartcards, such as Oyster. But plans to use the Oyster card for small change payments have been shelved for the time being as it has proved too complex for Transport for London.