Safety May Rise as Cars Talk to One Another

Thursday, 21 Aug 2014 07:41 AM

By Elliot Jager

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There will soon come a time when cars are capable of wirelessly communicating with each other about potential road dangers helping to prevent traffic accidents, The New York Times reported.

The new technologies go beyond sensors and cameras within cars that currently warn of blind spots and unwanted lane drifting.

A pilot program at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute in Ann Arbor, is working on tools to address hazards that can't be seen or measured from inside a vehicle, the Times reported.

Not only would cars talk to other cars, wireless transmitters would also track information about road conditions and even how much time is left before traffic signals change.

The Transportation Department said it would require vehicle-to-vehicle communication in the coming years. The technology can be retrofitted into existing vehicles and would add about $350 to the cost of a new car by 2020.

"If there are several vehicles between you and the one that's panic-braking, you may not even be aware of it," Debby Bezzina a research team leader, told the Times. "You definitely can't see their taillights."

A red warning signal on the rearview mirror accompanied by a loud tone would alert a driver that an out-of-sight car has stopped short.

Experts estimate that eight out of 10 accidents could be prevented, saving 1,000 lives a year, according to the Times.

"We're not interested in this because it's cool," General Motors Co. spokesman Dan Flores told the Times. "We think there's a fundamental benefit where people can be safer if they have this technology."

He added that such technological advances will bring the truly driverless car closer.

Hideki Hada, general manager of the Toyota Technical Center, said vehicles would one day merge car-to-car communication with other technologies to develop a smart vehicle that has "360-degree awareness," according to the Times.

The technology would not track personal information and would have a range limited to several hundred yards, the Times reported.

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