DOT Tests Connected Vehicle Crash Avoidance Technology
Last year, the Department of Transportation embarked on a 3,000 vehicle research project to discover the effectiveness of connected vehicle crash avoidance technology. The study, which has been named “Safety Pilot,” is being conducted in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The Safety Pilot program was originally set to be a year-long study, but the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has recently reported that the study will be extended for an additional six months. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood visited the University of Michigan to launch the second phase of this program. Secretary LaHood is hoping that this cutting-edge technology can help to improve roadway safety and efficiency. Very few details have been released about the data being gathered in this study.
The study is being conducted by the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI). Almost 3,000 automobiles were fitted with equipment to allow real-time communication between vehicles and infrastructures in Ann Arbor. The technology has been likened to “Wi-Fi” for cars. Volunteers had their automobiles equipped with two types of communication devices. First, there is vehicle-to-vehicle communication, which is also known as V2V. Additionally, cars are also equipped with vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) devices. The V2I devices will collect data about operability and effectiveness. The original study looked at cars, trucks and bus. The second six-month extension will also look into technology for motorcycles and heavy vehicles.
How it Works
These ‘Smart Cars’ utilize short-range communications. These signals get sent to other automobiles nearby 10 times a second. If nearby vehicles are unexpectedly braking, changing lanes suddenly or merging into traffic, an audible or visual warning is issued inside of the vehicle. In addition to communication between vehicles, there are also connections to traffic lights, road signals, intersections, curves and various areas of the roadway.
The majority of this $25 million research project has been funded by the Department of Transportation. Additionally, eight major automobile manufacturers including General Motors Co., Toyota Motor Corp., and Ford Motor Co. have partnered up for this study. It remains to be seen if this technology can help to reduce automobile crashes. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will likely report their findings, as soon as the data has been collected and processed.