Cars have become much safer and more efficient since Henry Ford first introduced the “Model A” in 1903. But as long as cars remain operated by humans, we will not be able to protect all drivers and passengers against perhaps the most common car accident threat: human error.
Thanks to researchers at major universities and companies like Google, fully autonomous cars could become widely used within our lifetimes. Until then, however, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration wants to implement widespread use of other technologies to bridge the gap between human and machines. In fact, researchers here in Michigan are currently working on vehicle-to-vehicle communication technology designed to detect crash hazards while they can still be avoided and to immediately warn drivers.
The federal government is funding a pilot program conducted in Ann Arbor by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute. About 3,000 vehicles in the city have been outfitted with wireless transmitters than can send and receive information approximately 10 times in a single second.
According to Transportation Department estimates, 80 percent of car accidents that aren’t caused by impaired drivers are potentially preventable. Vehicle-to-vehicle transmitters could be the technology that starts bringing down crash rates considerably. Just as promising is the low cost of implementation. Transmitters can be added to current vehicles, and by 2020, experts predict, transmitters will only add a few hundred dollars to the cost of a vehicle.
Michigan may no longer have the high volume of auto manufacturing jobs that it once did. But it is exciting to hear that Michigan is still helping the United States drive more safety and securely by helping test this innovative technology.
Source: The New York Times, “New Era in Safety When Cars Talk to One Another,” Aaron M. Kessler, Aug. 20, 2014