Talking cars can lead to safer, less congested roads

25 years from now, we can expect to see roads filled with millions of self-driving vehicles, as automakers and legislators aim to cut back on congestion and accidents. This week, the Department of Transportation announced the arrival of a report regarding the future of vehicle to vehicle (V2V) technology.

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As previously discussed on Bits & Pieces, V2V technology is exactly what it sounds like: Cars will soon “talk and listen” to one another — automatically. They will share information like proximity, speed, direction, road conditions, as well as countless others things yet to be imagined. The chief driver of V2V is signaling impending collisions so that the cars can automatically take countermeasures. That, of course, means the V2V network will become a critical technology for self- and assisted-driving cars. According to its latest report, the DOT hopes that by the end of the decade, law will require all new vehicles to be hooked up to this so-called roadway network.

“By warning drivers of imminent danger, V2V technology has the potential to dramatically improve highway safety. V2V technology is ready to move toward implementation,” explained NHTSA Deputy Administrator David Friedman.

According to the New York Times, V2V can be installed to any appropriate car for nearly $350. This relatively inexpensive technology could save upwards of 1,000 lives a year and prevent over 500,000 accidents, the NHTSA reveals.

“Safety is our top priority, and V2V technology represents the next great advance in saving lives. This technology could move us from helping people survive crashes to helping them avoid crashes altogether – saving lives, saving money and even saving fuel thanks to the widespread benefits it offers,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx affirms.

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A research team at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute has begun testing V2V communications on a wider scale. The group has signed up over 3,000 volunteers to implement the tech into the real world and use it on a daily basis. Auto manufacturers have also joined in by offering up a series of test cars for the research team to use.

GM’s Dan Flores tells the New York Times, “We think there’s a fundamental benefit where people can be safer if they have this technology. We believe, longer term, it will be part of the suite of technologies that will bring about a true driverless car.”

Gary Silberg, who forecasts future trends in the auto industry for consulting firm KPMG, estimates close to half of all new vehicles sold in 2039 will offer the option of being entirely autonomous. Navigant Research forecasts 94.7 million vehicles with self-driving capabilities will be sold annually around the world by 2035. With self-driving cars hitting some roadways in 2015, it comes with little surprise that this technology is on the cusp of becoming fully adopted.

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Google, which many credit with sparking America’s fascination of driverless cars, recently showed a next-generation car with no steering wheel, just a panic button for emergency stops. “The technology has evolved. The sensors, actuators and so on are already there. It is really about integration. We are along the path to get there and I foresee that day coming,” Johann Jungwirth, President of Mercedes-Benz R&D North America, explained.

Still, with safety being of paramount importance, it is clear we will see this technology develop in the near future to become the norm. “The country is well on its way to deploying this life-saving technology. We need to preserve the space on the spectrum that these safety systems rely on to operate. There is no better use of this spectrum than to save lives,” explained John Bozzella, President and CEO of Global Automakers.

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And for those who can do without traffic, in 25 years, congestion will only get worse. The U.S. Census Bureau predicts the American population to exceed 400 million people — meaning more drivers on the nation’s highways. Navigant Research estimates another 10 million vehicles will be in use by 2035, bringing the total number on American roads to more than a quarter billion. Subsequently, vehicles equipped with V2V technology could also enable the development of a wide range of mobility and environmental benefits based on vehicle-to-infrastructure applications and other V2V applications that can enhance traffic flow in many ways.

So in a few years, if a car zooms past you on the freeway with no apparent driver, don’t be concerned… you’re likely safer for it!

As cars continue to get smarter, they’re becoming more electrical and autonomous. Interested in learning more about Atmel’s automotive portfolio? Check out our automotive-qualified category breakdown below:

2 thoughts on “Talking cars can lead to safer, less congested roads

  1. Pingback: GM says driverless Cadillac to hit the road by 2017 | Bits & Pieces from the Embedded Design World

  2. Pingback: Video: Audi’s self-driving car hits the race track | Bits & Pieces from the Embedded Design World

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