General Motors, Ford, the Department of Transportation, and the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute are launching a pilot program to determine the effectiveness of vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications.
“What the heck is that,” you ask? Good question. Blindfold yourself, then walk around the room. Bumped into a lot of stuff, right? Well, your car is essentially blindfolded from its surroundings, relying solely on you to give it information. But what if you removed that blindfold, and your car could tell other cars in the area how fast it was going, where it was, what direction it was going, and vice-versa. Now, imagine it could also talk to things like traffic signals, and get information about road surface conditions as well. Now combine this knowledge with things like automatic braking, and the theory goes that with more information, the less prone your car will be to bumping into things.
That’s the theory, anyhow. To put it to the test, the Department of Transportation is sponsoring a study through the University of Michigan to determine if it works in practice. General Motors will be providing eight vehicles equipped with “production-viable” systems to transmit and receive data; Ford will provide 20 specially equipped S-Max models (small wagons not for sale in the U.S.).
The automakers are contributing to a fleet of more than 3,000 “talking cars,” integrating with 73 lane-miles of roads in Ann Arbor, Mich., which have been equipped with 29 roadside equipment installations. The vehicles and test road will gather data for a year, which the Department of Transportation will then use the findings at the end of 2013 to evaluate whether it works, and if so, how the system could be standardized and implemented.
Source: General Motors, Ford