US Government to Require Car-to-Car Communication to Prevent Collisions

Over in the US, the Obama administration have announced that vehicles will eventually be required to use technology that enables vehicles to communicate and warn each other of potential danger in time to avoid collisions. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that the technology could eventually prevent almost six hundred thousand crashes a year, which would in turn save over a thousand lives.

The proposed technology uses radio to continually transmit live information about the vehicle that it’s installed in, such as its exact position, orientation, speed and other data, which can then be received by other vehicles also using this technology, allowing each vehicle to build an accurate and detailed picture of the other. It can then alert drivers of important things, even pre-empting something like another vehicle with the same technology—that can be up to about 275 metres away and around the corner—being about to go through a red light. Ultimately, this means that it can predict and warn drivers of potential collisions. It is claimed that the technology can even indicate that a car down the road is making a sudden stop before the break lights of this car are activated and seen by the driver.

This all points to a vision of a future where cars not only can communicate pertinent safety data, but other things like traffic lights, hazard signs and roadways themselves transmit data to cars in their vicinity. This will increase road efficiency and reduce traffic, as well as save lives. While similar, this technological development is different from the sensor-based technology which is being developed for self-driving cars, though the two will be compatible and mutually enhancing.

This announcement is a crucial step towards a future where transport will be safer, more efficient and easier. However, there are many more steps to be taken, and it will take many years for this technology to be widely implemented in all new vehicles and for currently available models to be retrofitted with it. Still, it’s a very good sign of things to come and there’s a growing consensus that while this advancement will require a large initial investment (installing the technology into each vehicle will approximately cost $330), in the long run it will certainly pay off.

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