Smarter Cars Are Headed Your Way

Soon, you may have extra help in averting crashes and traffic jams when driving. The University of Michigan, in conjunction with U.S. officials, is currently testing wireless devices in 3,000 cars and trucks that will track the speed and location of other vehicles, alert drivers to congestion or a changing traffic light to green, and warn of possible accident situations through loud beeps, flashes or seat vibrations.

The wireless system will transmit and receive data 10 times a second about every participating vehicle’s location, speed and direction. It will be able to detect cars up to 300 meters away, alert drivers if an unseen car brakes suddenly, and communicate with roadside devices in 29 areas throughout Ann Arbor.

U.S. safety regulators believe that these forms of communication may help avoid or decrease the severity of 80 percent of crashes that occur when the driver is not impaired. Last year in the U.S., over 32,000 people died in traffic accidents. The trial is expected to run through August 2013, and results of the experiment may help the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration determine if the technology should be a mandate in the future.

The Transportation Department has contributed 80 percent of the money for the test, which will cost about $25 million total and is the largest test of its kind. The cars were supplied by eight major automakers, including General Motors, Ford, and Toyota. Each automaker has responsibilities for individual areas of research.

For more information, read the Detroit Free Press article.

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