Researchers from the University of Munich have begun a field test, Fraunhofer, reports, of a new car-to-car communications technology to find out if wireless networks that allows cars to “talk” to one another can reduce traffic tie-ups, increase mileage, and make the ride a better experience for drivers. Gearbum says such a system should take human error out of the equation regarding traffic snarls and make life easier for everyone, should the new technology pan out.
In the field test, researchers have attached sensors and controls and have installed computers into 120 test automobiles in and around the city of Munich. Some belong to the researchers while others are owned and operated by volunteers. The sensors record road conditions, such as how fast the vehicle is traveling, what is going on with the car ahead and even if emergency vehicles pass by and which direction they are traveling. The idea, GearBum says, is to collect as much useful information as possible about road conditions and feed them to the computer. The computer then crunches the data and eventually sends out wireless messages to all of the other cars within earshot, and that are participating in the field test. Each car receives messages from other cars in the study, and then informs the driver of conditions that may cause a slowdown or impact the enjoyability of the drive. Also included are emergency control situations where the computer causes the car to take evasive action to avoid a collision.
The project is called The Safe Intelligent Mobility – Testfield Germany (simTD), says Fraunhoffer, and its mission is to find ways to reduce traffic congestion, reduce accidents and bump up the average mileage of cars on the road in Germany. Studies show, they say, that when drivers are alerted to potential traffic jams or respond more logically to certain traffic situations, cars get higher milers per liter due to less starting, stopping and fast acceleration. In addition to the researchers the study also includes participants from Audi, Volkswagen, BMW Opel, Bosch, Continental, Deutsche Telekom and Ford Motor Compnay.
The field study is to be conducted continuously for a period of four years with adjustments made along the way to test new technology as it develops. The ultimate goal is find just the right combination of sensors, controls and computer technology to optimize driving conditions, and then to have the new systems installed in every car in Germany, and eventually Europe and perhaps the rest of the world.