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Car-to-car communication starts rolling out

Car-to-Car and Car-to-Infrastructure technologies are making their way into the public streets. Sunnyvale, California is the first city where the first commercial test on the road was carried out. The pilot project included a 4.63 square miles drive in the city, three public intersections and vehicles equipped with Savari’s V2X-enabled roadside units. Savari and Nissan collaborated to develop units at traffic lights to communicate with the on-board units in the cars. Data on traffic conditions at intersections was collected in real time for broadcast to other vehicles that had been fitted with the technology.

Many viewed the test as a sign that regulation to bring this technology to the market is on the way. One analyst noted that appropriate rules might be announced in the fourth quarter of the year.

Over the past few years, much hype has been around self-driving cars, but simpler technologies might just save as many lives and help to manage traffic and congestion. The car-to-car technology involves cars broadcasting their, bearing, speed and other factors over a few hundred meters. By doing this, they alert onboard computer and safety to an impending accident even in instances where sensors on self-driving cars would be blind. Car-to-infrastructure communication, on the other hand, can helps manage traffic and reduce congestion by creating collaboration between cars, modified traffic lights and specialized roadside beacons. Using the technlogy, cars are in a position to alert drivers of construction, upcoming congestion, road condition, or emergency vehicles.

Currently, vehicles have been fitted with instruments that use ultrasound and radar to detect vehicles and obstacles. The main limitation with the sensors is that they are limited to a few car length and cannot observe past the nearest obstruction. Car-to-car technology will have a bigger impact than current sensors and possibly even the self-driving cars that remain imperfect and unproven with software and sensors that are easily discombobulated by, unexpected obstacles, poor weather, or complicated driving.

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DoT) was interested and might still be in the technology. During 2012 and 2013, it organized a large-scale test in the city of Ann Arbor, Michigan that involved 2,800 cars that were equipped with data recorders and radio equipment. Since that exercise, the DoT has not done much concerning the technology with many analysts claiming that it because of the potential cost burden consumers will incur. Also, there were concerns regarding possible interference with the applicable wireless frequency. Some have suggested that existing 5G or LTE could be used instead.

Featured image credit: MIT tech review

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