U.S. Department of Transportation Test Drives “Smart” Cars
I suspect most of you out there are old enough to remember Knight Rider. Even as a kid, I never expected a real car to act like Kitt, but figured some of the elements of its design would eventually become science-fact (hands-free communication, GPS, on-board computer). Navigation aside, I don’t really want a car that can talk to me. It’d probably just complain.
It might not ask you about your feelings, but the U.S Department of Transportation (DOT) is experimenting with “smart” cars that can communicate with other vehicles and with drivers. As part of a $25 million year-long pilot project, the DOT has equipped 3,000 vehicles with data recorders and wireless technology. The pilot program will take place aroundAnn Arbor, MI, and will study how and if the technology can increase vehicle safety.
Test vehicles will use dedicated short-range communications (a faster, more secure version of Wi-Fi) to connect with other vehicles to report possible hazards. This includes anything from poor road conditions to other vehicles in a blind spot. From the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:
[Vehicle communications] safety technology could help drivers avoid or reduce the severity of four out of five unimpaired vehicle crashes. To accomplish this, the model deployment vehicles will send electronic data messages, receive messages from other equipped vehicles, and translate the data into a warning to the driver during specific hazardous traffic scenarios. Such hazards include an impending collision at a blind intersection, a vehicle changing lanes in another vehicle’s blind spot, or a rear collision with a vehicle stopped ahead, among others.
Automakers involved with the program include General Motors, Ford, Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Volkswagen, Hyundai, and Mercedes-Benz. The majority of the drivers will be volunteers. The communications package will be added multiple types of vehicles, including cars, buses, and trucks.
Below you’ll find a video about Ford’s work in developing smart vehicles.