M2M networks cars

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  • Deutsche Telekom in successful cooperation with partners from the automotive industry and research
  • eCall to improve emergency communication from 2015
  • Secure M2M communication with Deutsche Telekom's reliable mobile network

Your car computer reading out e-mails to you while you drive or displaying free parking spaces in the city center might seem like a vision of the future, but these things are possible right now with machine-to-machine (M2M) communication. Automotive manufacturers are increasingly integrating M2M SIM chips into their vehicles in order to meet customers' needs and comply with new European Union (EU) regulations. For this reason, automotive manufacturers and suppliers, scientists, and other relevant branches of industry are currently intensively researching communication solutions for the connected car.

Partnerships support M2M advances
Mobile communication providers like Deutsche Telekom play a crucial role, because they are the ones who provide the necessary infrastructure and foster the development of M2M solutions through partnerships. For example, Deutsche Telekom and BMW have joined forces to offer the Connected Drive service. With this solution, various BMW vehicle classes are fitted with intelligent components ranging from a maintenance system and additional traffic information to an automated emergency call system (eCall) and Google service. In this cooperation, Deutsche Telekom contributes the M2M SIM chips which are a key component of the integrated telematics boxes.

Car sharing made easy
Machine-to-machine technology also allows for completely new business models in the automotive sector. For example, M2M is a key technology for the vehicle fleets of car sharing providers. In this sector, Deutsche Telekom is cooperating with the Daimler subsidiary car2go. An M2M solution in the vehicles continually transmits their position, mileage, and fuel level to the provider. This lets the provider keep track of the fleet, while comprehensive documentation even allows him to pass parking tickets on to the responsible drivers. Users benefit from being able to locate the cars easily and book a vehicle using an app on their smartphone.

Insurance concept rewards safe driving
M2M is also creating completely new insurance models as demonstrated by the cooperation between Deutsche Telekom and the U.S. company DriveFactor. The two companies presented an M2M solution in mid-2013 for car insurers to offer their customers incentives for safe driving. It is based on the concept of "usage-based insurance." M2M also allows insurance companies to automate processes such as the initial damage report. The devices needed for this are compatible with most cars manufactured in North America from 1996 and Europe from 2001. With the aid of a GPS receiver and several sensors, the system recognizes, for example, how a driver accelerates, brakes, and steers around curves. After each trip, the device sends the collected data to a DriveFactor server via the mobile network. This server analyzes the data and, to protect the customer's privacy, only passes on to the insurance company the vehicle information agreed in the terms of business. This typically includes mileage, braking and acceleration behavior, and the time of day. DriveFactor also sends a total score to the insurance company, on the basis of which savings for safe driving can then be calculated.

eCall emergency call system for drivers
From 2015, automated data exchange between vehicles or with a central control center could also make driving safer. Manufacturers today do not just want to develop vehicles that receive data, but also vehicles that can send their own messages: In the event of an accident, for instance. Due to an EU resolution, all new cars must be fitted with an automatic emergency call system (eCall) from 2015. This automatically alerts emergency services in the event of an accident, thereby significantly shortening the communication chain between the accident victim and the rescue team.

To enable eCall, the vehicle's on-board electronics will be supplemented with a permanently installed M2M SIM chip and a GPS module. The emergency call trigger is linked to the airbag sensors. If an accident occurs, information about the vehicle's location, the time of day, and the vehicle identification number is sent automatically to an emergency call center, along with the driving direction, severity of the accident, and the number of fastened seatbelts. This allows emergency services to send help to the accident location immediately or to establish a voice link with the accident victim. The aim is to reduce the number of road casualties. According to the European Commission, 30,300 people died in traffic accidents in the EU in 2011 alone. The international emergency call system could save some 2,500 lives a year, the Commission estimates.

eCall for motorcyclists
The automatic emergency call system does not just benefit car drivers. Since May 2013, M2M has been increasing road safety for motorcyclists as well with the Schuberth RiderEcall, the first automatic emergency call system for motorcyclists in Europe. The system automatically alerts emergency services after an accident. It is based on the Björn Steiger Foundation's initiative "eCall for motorcyclists in Europe." This ground-breaking project is being supported by Deutsche Telekom, in cooperation with the helmet manufacturer Schuberth and Bosch Sicherheitssysteme GmbH.

M2M makes motor sports safer
An M2M solution is also making motor sports safer. The Deutsche Telekom partner GPSoverIP was commissioned by the German motor sports association Deutscher Motorsportbund (DMSB) and the association of Nürburgring endurance cup organizers (VLN) to develop a GPS tracking system that increases safety on and off the racetrack and allows checking of all drivers' speeds for the first time. This is particularly important when the drivers on the track need to reduce their speed in a dangerous situation (yellow phase), such as after an accident. Up till now, the only way of checking compliance with the speed limit was a visual check by the track marshals. Now the race director can use an app that allows him to see at any time which vehicles are not reducing their speed despite the yellow phase. He can document this breach of the rules and impose a penalty. The machine-to-machine solution was premiered in Germany at the ADAC 24-hour race at the Nürburgring in 2013. For this race, all 200 cars were fitted with the new system.

Car-to-car warning about aquaplaning
Another example of increased road safety is the development of a cross-manufacturer Car-to-X communication system. The project is called "Safe and Intelligent Mobility—Test Field Germany" (SIM-TD) and was launched in the Frankfurt am Main area in September 2008. The field trial with 120 test vehicles and 3 motorbikes in and around Frankfurt was completed in June 2013. The vehicles were on the road for over 41,000 hours in total during the field trial. Over 1.6 million kilometers were covered. The aim was to test how cars can be networked with each other. Deutsche Telekom is participating in this project, together with three federal ministries, six car manufacturers, two suppliers, two municipalities, and six universities and research institutions. Deutsche Telekom's contribution includes its extensive knowledge of machine-to-machine communication. The researchers are hoping that cars will be able to communicate with each other directly or indirectly as a standard feature in a few years' time. Vehicles could warn other vehicles within a 500-meter radius when an emergency braking maneuver takes place, for example, or in case of ice or aquaplaning. They could also assist with lane changes and merging, free up a lane quickly for emergency vehicles, or report accidents and construction sites.

In addition to communication between cars, the field trial also tested the exchange of data with the road infrastructure, such as traffic lights and traffic management centers. Information on the traffic situation was sent to a traffic management center that then devised alternative routes for the individual road users. This meant that emerging traffic jams could be detected promptly and prevented. The system reduces not only driving times and stress, but also CO2 emissions. From 2015, the construction site warning function tested within the field trial is to be put into practice in the "Cooperative IST Corridor Rotterdam - Frankfurt am Main - Vienna" project. This is to be run by a public-private partnership. Experts predict that the roads can only be made safer in future with connected vehicles.