Cisco Joins Effort to Advance Highly Connected Cars

Cisco is teaming with NXP and Cohda to help develop wireless, in-vehicle safety systems that can help make vehicles safer for drivers and passengers.

Cisco Systems is getting into the vehicle safety business, joining NXP Semiconductors to help in the push toward creating in-vehicle safety systems that wirelessly communicate with drivers in real-time to warn of road hazards, impending crashes and other driving dangers.

In an announcement Jan. 4, Cisco and NXP said they are investing an unspecified amount of money into Cohda Wireless, which is already working on these kinds of safety systems, which allow communications from one vehicle to another or from one vehicle to a fixed location.

What's at stake are car-to-car (C2C) and car-to-infrastructure (C2I) communications systems that could enable active safety systems in vehicles in about 81 percent of all crashes that typically occur, according to the partners. The idea is that by including such systems in modern vehicles, the technology could help reduce fatalities and injuries on the roads.

Other benefits from systems that allow vehicles to "talk" to one another or to roadways and on-road safety devices (car-to-X) include "great potential for intelligent transport system (ITS) management and reducing greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles," according to Cisco.

"By allowing vehicles to reliably interact with each other when travelling at high-speeds, each vehicle can give drivers warnings about potential hazards and allow them to avoid accidents, or even automatically respond to changing driving conditions faster than typical human reaction times," the statement continued. "Warnings about traffic blockages ahead also allow early re-routing to avoid traffic congestion."

These kinds of C2C and C2I systems need highly reliable and secure data exchange between fast-moving vehicles and infrastructure in a range of conditions, which is what brought Cisco, NXP and Cohda together in the partnership.

The three companies have already built test models for both on-board and roadside use that have been tested in field trials around the world, according to Cisco.

"We make Car-to-X work for the moving car," Cohda Wireless CEO Paul Gray said in a statement. "Our patented technology enhances radio reception; the car can see around corners or through obstacles when needed. Combining our special expertise in wireless automotive communication with that of long-established automotive companies like NXP and a global player like Cisco is a logical next step to further grow our reach into the automotive industry."

Elsewhere, it's already been a busy week for connected-car technologies with Google announcing on Jan. 2 its own similar deals with Hyundai and Kia Motors America to bring new mobile capabilities to drivers and vehicles.

The Google deals include bringing Google Maps application programming interfaces (APIs) to Hyundai's Blue Link telematics platform and Google content and search-based APIs to the second version of Kia's UVO eServices telematics system.