A 3,000-vehicle test of wireless crash-avoidance system

August 22, 2012

(Credit: U.S. Department of Transportation)

Tuesday’s launch of a new year-long test of “smart car” technology conducted by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute is designed to save lives and reduce injuries among American motorists.

The researchers plan to install wireless communication devices on nearly 3,000 vehicles that will let passenger cars, commercial trucks, and transit buses “talk” to each other, as well as to traffic lights and other road signals located at intersections, curves and highway sites throughout a test-pilot area in northeast Ann Arbor.

(Top) Vehicle Awareness Device (VAD) securely and privately transmits your vehicle’s speed and location (from GPS device) to other vehicles in the immediate area. (Middle) Aftermarket Safety Device (ASD) includes a VAD but also receives speed and location data from other vehicles, providing information about the position of other vehicles and audio warnings if the threat of a crash exists. (Bottom) ASD + Data Acquisition System (DAS) collects video and data on driver performance. (Credit: University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute)

The connected vehicle technology involves both vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications that transmit and receive vehicle data such as position, speed and direction.

Drivers are alerted to a potential crash situation —such as a nearby vehicle unexpectedly braking, a sudden lane change, merging traffic, etc. — by a visual or audible warning inside their vehicles.

The data generated and archived as part of the project will be used to inform future regulatory and policy decisions by the USDOT.

It also will be made available to the transportation industry for use in developing additional approaches to vehicle safety, mobility and environmental sustainability. The testing phase will last one year, but the overall program will operate for 30 months.

Safety Pilot Model Deployment, a $22 million partnership between UMTRI and the U.S. Department of Transportation, is part of a joint research initiative led by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to see how well wireless communication technology works in the real world.

It is the largest connected-vehicle, street-level pilot project ever conducted.

No word if drivers will hack into the WiFi to send text messages. — Ed.