Forget Google’s driverless cars. The next big thing to hit the street is being tested right now thanks to the University of Michigan and the Dept. of Transportation. They’ve teamed up to develop ‘connected cars’ that are able to talk to each other and be aware of where each one is at any time.
This kind of technology is nothing new, of course. Mercedes and many other premium car companies have features that let your car know exactly how far you are from another car or object. But this technology being developed at U. Michigan is a bit different.
The project is called the Safety Pilot Model Deployment and is a portion of a $22 million partnership program. There are 3,000 vehicles currently being tested: trucks, passenger cars, buses, and more. Each vehicle has devices that communicate with one another in real time.
Most of the ‘talk’ between vehicles won’t be seen or heard by drivers or passengers. However, the devices to have the ability to give visual or audible warnings in the event of a potential crash or other problem (traffic, alternate routes, etc.)
I could see this being extremely helpful for monitoring traffic congestion around the country in real-time. We won’t have to rely on traffic cameras or helicopters (although I do love me some SKYCOPTER 3000 local news helicopters) and instead can pull up live traffic information in real-time.
“This is a game-changer for transportation,” program manager Jim Sayer said.
The program is not just some pie-in-the-sky idea though. Many automakers are also involved. Ford, GM, Honda, Hyundai, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Toyota, and Volkswagen. In other words, pretty much all the big names are excited about this technology.
The project managers say the technology may take upwards of 5 years to fully implement though. So we’ll see if this tech beats the autonomous Google cars to market. Start your engines!