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Here is the 2nd in the series of CNN article about the top ten trends in the auto industry.

Cars that talk to each other

WHY THEY’RE USEFUL:

Vehicles could share information to avoid accidents and help each other travel more smoothly

WHO’S WORKING ON THEM:

All the major automakers, the U.S. government

WHEN WILL THEY HIT THE ROAD?

Within the next five years

For several years now, we’ve been hearing about a near future in which all of our digital devices communicate with each other. Your fridge notices that you’re at the grocery store, for example, and sends a message to your phone saying you’re out of milk. Or your oven texts you when the pot roast is done.

Now this so-called “Internet of things” is coming to the highway. As cars grow more and more computerized, they will be able to trade messages about traffic, weather and road conditions. More urgently, they can broadcast their speed and direction and warn each other about potential safety hazards, such as when a nearby vehicle is drifting into your lane.

“If I can get information from the car next to me that they’re going to turn right, that would be great,” explains Maarten Sierhuis, director of Nissan’s research center in Silicon Valley. He imagines a day when information about almost all vehicles is stored in the cloud and accessible by all. “It would be like crowdsourcing the driving experience.”

This technology is called vehicle-to-vehicle communications, or V2V for short, and it’s not far off.

In the first test of its kind, almost 3,000 cars and trucks equipped with prototype V2V devices have been driving around Ann Arbor, Michigan, over the past year-and-a-half as part of a pilot program by the University of Michigan and the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The devices emit a short-range safety signal 10 times per second and can detect signals from other vehicles to determine when a potential accident is imminent. Cars equipped with the devices emit beeps when they detect potential hazards such as another vehicle entering an intersection, a pedestrian, a patch of ice or even their driver speeding too fast around a curve.

Researchers are still crunching the data, so it may be too soon to say whether Ann Arbor’s network of connected cars made its streets safer. But federal transportation officials are already sold on the technology, which they estimate could prevent 76% of the crashes on U.S. roads.

Earlier this month, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced it will move forward with plans to require V2V technology on all cars and light trucks, possibly as early as 2017. The tech would come standard on all new vehicles and could easily be added to older ones as well.

“V2V crash avoidance technology has game-changing potential to significantly reduce the number of crashes, injuries and deaths on our nation’s roads,” says NHTSA Acting Administrator David Friedman. “Decades from now, it’s likely we’ll look back at this time period as one in which the historical arc of transportation safety considerably changed for the better.”

This V2V technology would only send warnings to drivers. But future systems could automatically take over braking or steering if they sensed an imminent collision, federal officials say. Carmakers also are experimenting with other methods of warning drivers of impending dangers, such as vibrating steering wheels.

 

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