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Cars avoid crashes by talking to each other

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Roddy

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WASHINGTON — As a safety demonstration, it was a heart-stopper: A Ford Taurus was seconds away from cruising through an intersection when suddenly a row of red lights pulsed on the lower windshield and a warning blared that another car was approaching fast on the cross street.

Braking quickly, the driver stopped just as the second car, previously unseen behind a large parked truck, barreled through a red light and across the Ford's path.

The display at a recent transportation conference was a peek into the future of automotive safety: cars that to talk to each other and warn drivers of impending collisions. Later this summer, the government is launching a yearlong, real-world test involving nearly 3,000 cars, trucks and buses using volunteer drivers in Ann Arbor, Mich.

The vehicles will be equipped to continuously communicate over wireless networks, exchanging information on location, direction and speed 10 times a second with other similarly equipped cars within about 1,000 feet. A computer analyzes the information and issues danger warnings to drivers, often before they can see the other vehicle.

On roadways today, the Taurus in the demonstration likely would have been "T-boned" — slammed in the side by the other car. There were more than 7,800 fatal intersection accidents on U.S. roadways in 2010.

Called vehicle-to-vehicle communication, or V2V, more advanced versions of the systems can take control of a car to prevent an accident by applying brakes when the driver reacts too slowly to a warning.

V2V "is our next evolutionary step ... to make sure the crash never happens in the first place, which is, frankly, the best safety scenario we can all hope for," said David Strickland, administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

V2V technology holds the potential to help in most crashes that aren't alcohol or drug related, Strickland said. But a lot will depend on how drivers respond to the warnings, and that's one reason for the Ann Arbor test. Overall, more than 32,000 people were killed in traffic accidents last year.

In addition to warning of cars running red lights or stop signs, "connected cars" can let drivers know if they don't have time to make a left turn because of oncoming traffic. When driving on a two-lane road, the systems warn when passing is unsafe because of oncoming cars — even vehicles around a curve that the driver can't see yet.

In a line of heavy traffic, the systems issue an alert if a car several vehicles ahead brakes hard even before the vehicle directly in front brakes. And the systems alert drivers when they're at risk of rear-ending a slower-moving car.

It's also possible for connected cars to exchange information with traffic lights, signs and roadways if states and communities decide to equip their transportation infrastructure with similar technology. The information would be relayed to traffic management centers, tipping them off to congestion, accidents or obstructions. If cars are reported to be swerving in one spot on a roadway, for example, that could indicate a large pothole or obstruction. The constant stream of vehicle-to-infrastructure, or V2I, information could give traffic managers a better picture of traffic flows than they have today, enabling better timing of traffic signals to keep cars moving, for example. Correspondingly, cars could receive warnings on traffic tie-ups ahead and rerouting directions.

NHTSA has been working on the technology for the past decade along with eight automakers: Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai-Kia, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Toyota and Volkswagen.

"We think this is really the future of transportation safety, and it's going to make a huge difference in the way we live our lives," said Scott Belcher, president of the Intelligent Transportation Society of America, which promotes technology solutions to transportation problems.

The technology is already available, said Rob Strassburger, vice president for safety of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. He said what's needed is for the government to set standards so that all automakers use compatible technology.

Since V2V relies on wireless technology, ensuring that the safety systems are reliable and can't be hacked is another concern, NHTSA officials said.

The safety benefits of V2V won't be fully realized until there is a critical mass of cars on the road that can talk to each other, and just where that point lies isn't known. By the time the government sets standards and automakers are able to respond, it may be 10 years before the technology is widely available on new cars. It takes about 30 years for a new technology to work its way into the entire population of cars.

Creating consumer demand for the technology could speed up its introduction, Strassburger said. There's already demand for information on traffic tie-ups and rerouting that drivers can download to their smartphones, he said.

Automakers dislike government mandates requiring them to add technology to cars, but that's probably what's needed, said Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety, a consumer group.

"If you have the technology, and the price has gone down so much, use it," he said. "You aren't going to get it into the marketplace as fast as you could and save as many lives as you could unless you mandate it."

Some of the safety technologies for V2V are already available in cars, although they tend to be offered primarily on higher-end models. Lane departure systems, for example, warn drivers when their vehicle unintentionally wanders from its lane, and some can automatically steer the car back. Blind spot systems warn drivers of vehicles in adjacent lanes, and some can also steer away from hazards. Forward collision warning systems alert drivers to impending crashes, and some can automatically brake if the driver doesn't respond. Adaptive cruise control automatically adjusts vehicle speed to maintain a set distance from the car ahead in the same lane. Adaptive headlights change their aim in conjunction with the steering wheel. Parking sensors and rear-mounted cameras help a driver parallel park without scraping paint, bumping fenders or hitting pedestrians.

A key difference is that most of the current technologies rely on radar or laser sensors to "see" other nearby vehicles. They can't warn drivers about cars they can't see, such as the car that ran the red light in the intersection demonstration, or an oncoming car around a curve in the road.

Together, the currently available technologies and the future V2V systems may effectively form a kind of autopilot for the road. Said Strassburger: "The long-term trajectory for these technologies is the vehicle that drives itself — the driverless car."

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ston-loc

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SKYNET!!!! F all this new technology for our safety crap. Give up all free will now. It's the slow process they are leading you to. *shakes head while rolling eyes*
 

ston-loc

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I literally spent all weekend cruising around from multiple cruise spots, and BBQ's with dozens of other 40's-60's classics. I'll drive myself thank you. You can keep your cookie cutter metal coffins that drive themselves
 
R

Roddy

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Personally, I've dreamed of being able to set the destination, recline and toke on the go while relaxing. Of course, I would be in control, not big brother. Imagine being able to get a nap, read a book, plan the day, get work done...whatever...all during that basically wasted time. Hey, think of the sightseeing you could do while the vehicle took you on a tour of some of the most scenic drives available.

The next generation sure will have some interesting and exciting things...
 

ozzydiodude

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I'll ride a horse all the time before I'll get in a car that drives it self.
 
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Roddy

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If that were even near practical, I'd be riding horse everywhere now!! :) That would be pretty sweet!
 

nugatronica

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long haul trips on highways chilling in the back smoking a j oh happy days hahaha
 

ston-loc

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With Ozzie, as impractical as it would be! SKYNET! Rolling over so easily too, tisk tisk
 
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Roddy

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This is merely a friendly topic inviting friendly conversation for or against, I doubt anyone here is "rolling over"! I'm bowing from the convo, please keep it friendly as intended! :ciao: Be safe!
 

ston-loc

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All I'm saying is letting a satellite controlled car drive you around this rock is a huge giving up/rolling over, of your free will. That simple. Just my opinion. Take it how you want.
 

PartyBro420

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Am I the only one thinking It'd be great to drive to the bar get wasted, and NOT have to pay for a cab or call your ex cause your friends are just as drunk as you.
 

nvthis

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Huh.. I wanna see them autopilot my truck up Bottle Hill without rolling it... I say it never happens. In order to make an entire community compliant, there would have to be no way to turn it off, or everyone would do just that..
 
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Roddy

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If you believe "skynet", you'd have to believe the govt will mandate implementation on all vehicles. If not, you likely believe this will be an option like it already is in many other forms on some vehicles today.
 

Hick

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ozzydiodude said:
I'll ride a horse all the time before I'll get in a car that drives it self.
Well, I don't care where I am, but I can drop the reins on my o' gelding, and I guarantee you he will take me back to the house, or trailer, which ever is appropriate..:p
 

ozzydiodude

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That's the ol'mule can ride him and he'll get me home and never hit a bump that cause be to spill my beer:D Only bad this it that after plowing 4 rows he heads to the bar:eek:
 

getnasty

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nvthis said:
Huh.. I wanna see them autopilot my truck up Bottle Hill without rolling it... I say it never happens. In order to make an entire community compliant, there would have to be no way to turn it off, or everyone would do just that..
With the right sensors and equipment, they'll navigate that hill better than you. It would take unreasonably expensive equipment to do it, but it can be done. Just saying. ;)
 

Irish

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vounteers? lol. seems like it would be a paying gig beings we gave them all that money to continue on with thier work.:eek:

wheres art?;) i'd prefer to ride with him...:D
 

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