Cars That Talk… to Each Other

Jan 17, 2013

By Staff Writer

cars-talk.jpgHollywood often imagines a future in which drivers talk to their vehicles. In reality, experts are close to developing technology that allows cars to “speak” to each other as well. By enabling vehicles to communicate with each other and their surroundings via wireless communication, connected vehicle technology could help make roads safer for drivers.

Connected Vehicle Safety Pilot Program

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that this evolving technology could address about 80 percent of non-impaired crash scenarios. To further evaluate the technology’s effectiveness and drivers’ experiences with it, the United States Department of Transportation has launched the Connected Vehicle Safety Pilot Program.

Safety Pilot Model Deployment

The testing phase of the program is currently under way in Ann Arbor, Michigan. There, the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute is testing the technology on city streets and in local vehicles. “This is a scientific initiative to understand what benefits might be realized through the real-world deployment of vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure technology,” says Jim Sayer, program manager for the Safety Pilot Model Deployment.

In August 2012, 2,800 cars, trucks and buses equipped with connected vehicle technology hit the road. On board were devices that broadcast 10 signals every second to communicate the vehicle’s speed, location and travel direction. Wireless devices also were installed along 73 lane-miles of roadway in the city.

Sayer says 400 of the vehicles are outfitted with aftermarket or embedded safety devices. “These can not only send out a signal, but also listen for other vehicle awareness devices,” he says. That message is then translated into audible warnings alerting drivers of potentially dangerous situations, such as a vehicle braking suddenly, a driver entering a blind spot or hazards at intersections.

Next Steps

NHTSA will use the data collected during the Connected Vehicle Safety Pilot Program to determine, by 2013, whether or not to move forward with the technology. Find out more about connected vehicle technology, its possible applications and the pilot program from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

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