U.S. to Test Cars that Talk to Each Other
The U.S. government is testing 2,800 vehicles that are equipped to communicate with each other using radio signals. The system alerts drivers with a light or noise when they're in danger of crashing.
CREDIT: Department of Transportation
The U.S. government plans to test cars that communicate with each other wirelessly and alert drivers if they're in danger of crashing. Depending on how the testing phase goes, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration may ditch the project, allow carmakers to install the technology voluntarily or mandate that all new vehicles carry it, Government Technology reported.
The tests start in August with 2,800 cars, trucks and buses in Ann Arbor, Mich. The system will use radio signals similar to Wi-Fi. A car may send up to 10 signals a second, telling other cars its speed and location. Test drivers may see a flash of light or hear a sound to warn them of vehicles in their blind spots and other dangers. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration hopes the systems will reduce car crash fatalities, which is the leading cause of death for people between 4 and 34 years old in the U.S.
Right now, luxury cars often come equipped with radars and cameras to help drivers avoid crashes, but this radio technology promises to bring those capabilities to the mainstream. "It's probably cheaper and it's more capable," Shelley Row, director of the U.S. Department of Transportation's intelligent transportation office, told Government Technology. "It can do things that radar and other systems can’t do."
Volunteer test drivers get the communication system installed in their cars, according to the University of Michigan, which is running the pilot project. University researchers recruited local schools to help them find people willing to try the communicating cars. Researchers wanted frequent drivers and they thought soccer moms fit the bill, Government Technology reported.
The study will last one year, with three equipment check-ups during that time. Researchers will evaluate how drivers respond to the systems' lights and noises and whether the system reduces crashes.