Coinciding with a similar program being run in Germany, the U.S. Department of Transportation is about to start a trial of technology relying on car-to-car and car-to-object communications. The hope is that cars, either through warnings made to their driver or through autonomous systems will be able to prevent crashes by detecting them before they even happen.
General Motors has announced that it will be supplying eight specially equipped vehicles for a year of real-world testing under the new program dubbed the Connected Vehicle Safety Pilot Model Deployment Program. The program will be run by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute and is similar to independent tests already run by GM as well as rival firms including Ford.
Once the trial concludes late next year, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) will use data collected to measure overall system benefits. Analysis of the data could result in a wide-scale deployment of car-to-car and car-to-object technology before the end of the decade.
The technology basically works by each car having its own communications link to other cars, as well as to traffic infrastructure, which they use to keep each other updated about the current traffic situation. For example, if the tail-end of a traffic jam is hidden behind the crest of a hill or heavy fog, vehicles approaching the problem area can be alerted in good time, allowing the driver to take appropriate action, or perhaps even enabling autonomous systems to take control and prevent an impending crash.
The vehicles supplied by GM will include several Buick and Cadillac models fitted with production-viable integrated systems capable of sending and receiving information from other vehicles, and warning drivers when potential for a collision is detected.
Note, GM is also looking beyond simple car-to-car and car-to-object technology and investigating the potential of using smartphone signals to communicate with pedestrians and cyclists. With such technology in play, accidents in the future will be able to be prevented well before they happen.