The introduction of the eighth-generation of the Volkswagen Golf in the middle of 2020 marked a significant moment in vehicle telematics technology: it is the first mainstream production vehicle to be fitted with the ability to talk to other objects.

By this, we don’t mean a Siri-style personal assistant system – though the Golf does come with one of those. No, we mean an exchange of real-time data between it and other objects in its environment… other cars, traffic lights, even road signs.

Volkswagen calls this Car2X, but it’s also known as vehicle-to-everything communication or V2X.

But what exactly is V2X? And why is it significant?

Cars equipped with V2X can inform other cars – and therefore other drivers – in the area if it encounters an obstruction in the road such as a broken-down vehicle or accident. It can also alert you of the status of appropriately equipped roadside furniture such as traffic lights or variable speed limit signs.

VW’s system does this using a type of Wi-Fi that can communicate in a radius of up to 800 metres, and at a speed measure in milliseconds.

Initially, of course, the effectiveness of V2X is limited without widespread adoption. At the moment, for instance, there are only a few junctions in VW’s hometown of Wolfsburg in Germany that can deliver information to drivers in real-time.

Safety benefits

Of course, should more cars become equipped with V2X, as well as more roadside infrastructure, the potential safety benefits of the technology are significant, as more drivers will be more aware of potentially hidden hazards on the road. Both ADAC, the German motoring association, and safety body Euro NCAP have hailed the technology as potentially significant.

Autonomous driving technology

Further ahead, higher numbers of V2X-equipped cars could pave the way for machine learning and swarm intelligence that could significantly boost the effectiveness of autonomous driving technology.

A great example of this is the potential for ‘platooning’ where self-driving commercial vehicles automatically organise themselves into tight-packed convoys to benefit from the energy efficiency brought about by using the slipstream of the vehicle in front.

So while the technology is very much a nascent one, it could well be a significant element of the future of motoring.

Image by chace123 from Pixabay