Engineers in Michigan are monitoring the largest-ever road test for “talking” vehicles. The information collected from the test will help develop control systems that could transform the way you travel around town.
“The idea behind it is to improve safety by an order of magnitude,” says Dr Peter Sweatman, director of the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.
Nearly 3000 cars, trucks, and busses in Ann Arbor, Michigan have been fitted with Wi-Fi technology that allows them to communicate with each other. The devices send and receive messages and translate the data into driver warnings for specific hazards, such as impending collisions or changing lanes in another vehicle’s blind spot.
This technology does not turn a car into an independent, self-driving vehicle, but it is an important step to making large-scale deployment of self-driving vehicles a reality.
“This is fundamentally aimed at safety, but clearly with a platform like this you can create many other applications,” says Dr Sweatman. Information from car communications could be fed into a traffic management system that automatically detects potholes or obstructions in the road and notifies maintenance crews. The same system could divert cars away from crash sites making it easier for emergency personnel to reach victims.
IMAGE: Courtesy of the US Department of Transportation