More smarter cars
From 2,800 wired vehicles to 9,000
by Jeff Mortimer
From the July, 2014 issue
The number of Ann Arbor cars and light trucks equipped for vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication is about to triple.
The high-tech gear required for vehicles to communicate with one another about their location, speed, and potential hazards won't be available commercially for some time yet--but the success of the U-M Transportation Research Institute's Safety Pilot Model Deployment project has moved the day closer. Since the summer of 2012, more than 2,800 participants in the northeast quadrant of the city have volunteered their vehicles for the U.S.-Department of Transportation-sponsored study, the largest road test of V2V technology in history.
"We have collected nearly 30 billion basic safety messages," says UMTRI spokesperson Francine Romine. "The data was handed off to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to analyze and greatly influenced their decision to take the next step toward rule making, so it looks like this technology will someday be on cars and trucks manufactured in the U.S."
The initial study was limited to investigating whether the technology would not only work in the real world of nasty weather, trees, message congestion, and hackers but also be accepted by users. But the ultimate goal is to use the information to reduce accidents, and 300 vehicles were equipped to receive as well as transmit messages. One of the 300 is Romine's--and she did get a safety alert.
"I was on Plymouth Rd. and another equipped vehicle stopped short," she says. "It was not a life-threatening, or even bumper-threatening situation, but the tones sounded and alerted me. The technology worked."
Meanwhile, the project's success already has spawned plans for an even larger deployment, to 9,000 vehicles citywide, Romine says. "We'll begin seeking participants in the next several months." Anyone interested in taking part can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
[Originally published in July, 2014.]