A recent study has found that “intelligent” cars could be just as efficient when it comes to saving fuel as regular electric-hybrid vehicles. An "intelligent" car is basically an ordinary vehicle fitted with an array of sensors known as telematics, which monitor and predict traffic flows by communicating with other sensors within a network. Information about traffic conditions further ahead can then be relayed to the car in advance in order to speed up or slow it down to avoid as much congestion as possible.

Frequent acceleration during stop-start traffic is when most vehicles burn the greatest amount of fuel so avoiding them and maintaining a smooth motion will save you as much fuel as driving a hybrid, the study found. There are already telematic systems in use but due to the safety issue of vehicles controlling themselves such systems have only been used in a small handful of field tests.

This latest study was run by engineers at the University of Melbourne using two identical models, one a hybrid and the other fitted with the electronic sensors. According to the results, both cars managed an improvement in mileage rates of roughly 15-25% and the intelligent cars could become even more efficient if their sensors could see further ahead than they are currently set up to.

An article published by AFP reports that the official results will be published in the journal, Transport Research Part C: Emerging Technologies in coming months. In the US, similar technology is already starting to be implemented. National Geographic reports that Minnesota police and ambulances already carry sensors that communicate with each other, collecting traffic data such as speed, location and even weather and headlight usage, which is then compiled by the state-run Condition Acquisition Reporting System (CARS). The information is then used to create accurate weather and traffic reports.

GM is just one of the carmakers already working on Vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) technology, as pictured above.