“Talking” Vehicle Software Could Avert Collisions

Feb 25, 2011

A group of eight automakers that includes Ford Motor Co., General Motors Co., Toyota Motor Corp. and Volkswagen AG is working in Farmington Hills on technology to enable vehicles to talk to each other, to prevent crashes.

 

Ford demonstrated the emerging technology on three Escape SUVs Tuesday, ahead of this week's Washington Auto Show.

 

"If every car had it, it would be like another pair of eyes," said Mike Shulman, technical research leader at Ford's active safety research and advanced engineering team. "You wouldn't know it was there unless you need it."

 

The wireless technology alerts drivers to oncoming vehicles, when other technologies such as radar are unable to pick up on their approach. It sends out the vehicle's position 10 times a second.

 

Working with funding from the Transportation Department, the automakers' consortium plans to build 64 vehicles — eight from each — and retrofit 2,000 vehicles on the road for a study of technology next year. The test site hasn't been decided.

 

Peter Appel of the U.S. Department of Transportation said the government "is helping to lay the groundwork for a national system where all cars, trucks, buses and trains are aware of other vehicles around them." He said connected vehicles "will significantly reduce crashes and generate enormous amounts of new data about travel — data that will make our transportation system safer, more efficient and even 'greener.'"

 

Ford's vehicle communications technology allows cars to talk wirelessly with one another using a short-range dedicated communications network.

 

Vehicles will warn drivers of potential dangers, particularly those not detected with radar or that are not perceived because of weather, distance, or other cars or objects impeding the driver's view.

 

For example, drivers would be alerted if their car is on path to collide with another at a four-way intersection or when a car several vehicles ahead slams on the brakes.

 

[via The Detroit News]

Photo courtesy of daveynin and re-used under the Creative Commons license.