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Talking Cars – The Next Step in Automotive Safety?

Posted on Monday, September 10th, 2012 at 8:19 pm    

If you think cars talking to cars is just a fantasy, think again. According to a recent A.P. article by Joan Lowry a remarkable new safety system which relies upon cars communicating (talking) with one another is being tested by the Federal Government in Ann Arbor, Michigan this summer. This technology is called vehicle to vehicle communication or V2V.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) along with eight automakers has been working on V2V technology for about a decade.  V2V uses wireless technology to allow vehicles to communicate with one another.

In a recent demonstration to illustrate just how this technology works.  A Ford Taurus was seconds away from cruising through an intersection when suddenly a row of red lights pulsed on the lower windshield and a warning blared that another car was approaching fast on the cross street.  Braking quickly, the driver stopped just as the second car, previously unseen behind a large parked truck, barreled through a red light and across the Ford’s path.

In the more advanced version of V2V systems, the system can apply the vehicles brakes when the driver reacts too slowly. In addition to warning drivers of vehicles running red lights or stop signs, “connected” cars can let drivers know if they don’t have time to make a left turn because of oncoming traffic, if it is safe to pass on two lane highways, and when they are at the risk of rear ending a slower moving car.

David Strickland, the Administrator of NHTSA states that V2V “is our next evolutionary step…to make sure the crash never happens in the first place, which is, frankly, the best safety scenario we can hope for.”

But as Joan Lowry points out, the safety benefits of V2V technology would not be fully realized until there is a critical mass of cars on the road that can talk to each other which may take 10 years.

Although some current safety technologies, such as forward collision warning systems, alert drivers to impending crashes and automatically brake if the driver doesn’t brake are similar to V2V, most of the current technologies rely on radar or laser sensors to see other nearby vehicles.  Thus, unlike V2V technology, they can’t warn drivers about cars they can’t see, such as the car that ran the red light in the intersection demonstration.

To read the full article by Joan Lowry of the Associated Press go to