A Car-to-Car Communication System will get a trial involving thousands of cars. This could pave the way for technology aimed at cutting accidents and traffic jams. Many high-end cars already come with sensors capable of spotting a vehicle in a driver’s blind spot, or warning that the car is drifting out of lane. However, these technologies, which use radar, laser, or video sensors, have a limited view. Car-to-car communications could provide even more sophisticated earlier warnings—for example, when a car several vehicles ahead brakes suddenly.
The DOT (Department of Transportation) estimates that 80 percent of serious crashes could be addressed by this technology. “This is the next major safety advancement, one that’s comparable to seat belts, air bags, and electronic stability control,” said Scott Belcher, president and CEO of the Intelligent Transportation Society of America, a nonprofit founded to promote advanced car technologies.
Successful trials and full deployment in the United States could save 20,000 lives per year and global deployment could help to save 600,000 to 800,000 lives per yaer.
The University of Michigan is partnering with eight automakers, a number of which began working collaboratively to develop a uniform platform for implementing the technology in 1995. These carmakers will provide 64 cars equipped with the radios, while an additional group of ordinary cars will be fit with devices so they can transmit signals, making up a total of roughly 3,000 vehicles. Drivers will be recruited from among the 20,000 employees of the university’s medical center.
Europe is on a similar track. In January 2011, the European Commission launched a three-year pan-European field test in seven sites across Europe to ensure the interoperability of the system. The effort includes 40 carmakers as well as suppliers, electronics manufacturers, and research institutes.
Last month, the DOT awarded $14.9 million to the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute to test the technology, known as vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication. The system to be tested relies on dedicated short-range radio communication to allow cars to signal one another and receive messages from traffic equipment.