Will traffic be safer and smoother if vehicles can “talk” to each other? That’s the question the Department of Transportation hopes to answer, starting this summer, with an ambitious year-long experiment in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
In August the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration plans to have 2,800 cars, trucks, and buses on the streets of Ann Arbor, augmented with technologies that will alert drivers to road hazards such as sudden stops and vehicles in their blind spots. Partnering with the University of Michigan, DOT distributed the equipment to volunteer residents of the city and some public transportation vehicles.
For example, many cars use proximity sensors to alert motorists to nearby hazards. But in this case the augmented vehicles will use a combination of traditional GPS and a wireless broadcasting method functionally similar to Wi-Fi. The DOT calls the concept “Connected Vehicle Technology.” The system will allow cars to communicate directly with each other, alerting drivers to potential dangers.