Spark Blog Notes from the Spark Team

April 19, 2012

Let Your Car Do the Talking

In the future, cars may talk to each other, and to objects around them, says a recent story in The Washington Post.

Sorry, it won’t be like Lightning McQueen and his friends. The cars will communicate silently via wireless solutions called vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle to infrastructure (V2I).

The vision for V2V: one day, nearly every car will be equipped with a short-range transceiver sending information 10 times per second to nearby vehicles about location, direction and speed. The transceiver will also receive the same type of information from other cars within range, and make sense of it in real-time.

For instance, let’s say I’m driving on the freeway and an SUV is obstructing my view of traffic ahead. My car will know before I do that the traffic in front of the SUV has come to a sudden stop – because the SUV and the vehicles in front of the SUV will have sent a signal. My car will then decide whether to give me a heads-up or take appropriate defensive action itself. A driver alert could be a verbal warning, a seat vibration or a slight jerk on the seat belt. Simultaneously, my car will be telling other cars behind me what’s happening, helping avoid a pile up.

V2I is similar to V2V, except that your car communicates with nearby infrastructure, such as traffic signals. This is cool too, especially for those of us who hate waiting at stoplights. Imagine traffic signals that tell your car what speed to travel so that you catch every green light. Awesome.

Part of the larger concept of a world of connected things, both V2V and V2I could offer a huge leap in automobile safety. According to the story, V2V could reduce highway fatalities and injuries as well as save billions of dollars in accident-related health care costs and automobile repairs. It could also reduce traffic congestion, which in turn would cut down on the gas we waste sitting in traffic.

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