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‘Talking’ cars tested in the USA
In an experiment designed to improve road safety, close to 3,000 vehicles have been fitted with a new system that lets them ‘talk’ to each other.
The $25 million dollar trial – that’s around £15.7million – will run for 12 months in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and has been organised by the US Department for Transport.
The new technology is designed to alert drivers to potentially hazardous situations in order to reduce the number of road traffic accidents, and as a result, vehicle occupant and pedestrian fatalities and injuries.
The system relies upon similar technology to wi-fi in communicating the proximity of vehicles to one another. Data can be sent between vehicles and parts of the city’s infrastructure, with drivers warned if:
-> There is a collision risk developing, such as at a vehicle crossing where their view is impeded.
-> If another vehicle is changing lanes in their blind spot.
-> If there is a danger of a rear-end crash because the car immediately in front has applied the brakes suddenly.
Of these latter two points, similar examples of this technology have already been widely implemented into European production vehicles, albeit using a different method of gathering data and notifying the driver.
Nearly 500 wagons and buses have already been equipped with the system in the state of Michigan. It is hoped that by the start of October the total number of vehicles taking part in the test will rise to around 2,800.
Over 32,000 people died on US roads in 2011 due to car crashes. The government suggests that up to 80% of the number of accidents that did not involve ‘driver impairment’ – including drugs and alcohol – could be prevented by the new technology.
Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Toyota and Volkswagen have all donated vehicles for use in the experiment.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administrator, David Strickland:
“[The system] has the potential to be the ultimate game-changer in roadway safety. But we need to understand how to apply the technology is an effective way in the real world.”
However, experts have highlighted that the initiative’s effectiveness could be limited until every vehicle was required to be fitted with the necessary equipment.
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