Volkswagen is claiming to have reached an automotive milestone today as tests begin on its Car-2-Car communications system. The system aims to increase the levels of communications between cars of all makes and models eventually, and to hopefully improve road safety.

The enlistment of a number of different manufacturers means that research regarding the "Car-2-Car" communication is being conducted to define a universal standard for communication between vehicles. This will allow vehicles to communicate potential hazards and other important information to nearby vehicles. For example, if a vehicle encounters an adverse condition such as a traffic jam, fog, an icy road surface or an accident, it will transmit this information to all potentially affected vehicles in the area. Approaching traffic is alerted, allowing drivers to adjust their driving to the upcoming situation.

The tests are being conducted at Volkswagen's testing grounds in Dudehofen. Currently the test are being conducted in two Volkswagen vehicles, the Passat and the Golf, which both act as a sender, receiver and transmitter. 'Ad-hoc networks' based on wireless LAN technology are used to exchange data between the vehicles. The tests conducted simulated a variety of situations, including the presence of a motorcycle at an intersection, a stationary vehicle, a construction site and a police car in action.

Data access was provided by a 'CarGate' which creates an abstract of the vehicle data, thus allowing simple access to a multitude of information, such as road speed, engine speed, wheel speeds or status of the hazard flashers. This data can then be processed and transmitted in a useful manner to the driver, to help him or her to avoid adverse situations.

Volkswagen first mentioned Car-2-Car communication around 4 years ago, when it headed up a consortium of European manufacturers in order to make the technology a reality. In 2004, the consortium consisted of Audi, the BMW Group, DaimlerChrysler, Fiat, Renault and Volkswagen.

Also displayed this week were similar communications-based safety systems by Nissan and General Motors. Europe's Intelligent Car Initiative is beginning to have a direct influence on these sorts of projects as it calls for the use of Information and communication technologies to reduce road accidents and ease traffic congestion.2009 Volkswagen Golf Rabbit GTI Mark VI