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DOT to Launch Driver Testing of New Wireless Vehicle Safety Technology

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Connected Vehicles Technology

This August, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) will launch a series of clinics to test exciting new “Connected Vehicles” technology in which vehicles warn drivers of approaching hazards. The Driver Acceptance Clinics, to be held in six cities, will test how drivers react to the technology which makes it possible for vehicles to communicate wirelessly with each other and with roadway infrastructure, like traffic lights, dangerous road segments, and railroad crossings.

As U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood writes on his official blog, Fast Lane:

We kick off in August in Brooklyn, MI, then proceed to Minneapolis in September, Orlando in October, Blacksburg, VA, in November, Dallas in December, and San Francisco in January 2012. In each community, about 100 local drivers will test 24 cars equipped with Dedicated Short Range Communications wireless safety technology in controlled locations like restricted access racetracks. And, because the clinics will be taking place in urban, suburban, and rural communities across the U.S., we’ll get a chance to see a how a healthy cross-section of drivers take to the new technology.

The clinics will be led by DOT’s Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in partnership with the Crash Avoidance Metrics Partnership (CAMP).

“A NHTSA report found that connected vehicle technology has the potential to address 81 percent of all unimpaired driver related crashes,” said RITA’s Administrator Peter Appel, “but we must take a serious look at how this technology will work in the real world to create a safer transportation system.”

Connected Vehicles technology can alert drivers of potentially dangerous situations, giving them time to prevent auto accidents. For example, the system can warn a driver at the end of a long chain of speeding vehicles on a highway when the lead vehicle brakes sharply; and it can caution a driver who has the green light at an intersection if a vehicle approaching a red light is likely to fail to heed the right of way.

According to Michael Cooney, writing for Network World‘s Layer8:

Unlike radar-based safety features, which identify hazards within a direct line of sight, the Wi-Fi-based radio system allows full-range, 360-degree detection of potentially dangerous situations, such as when a driver’s vision is obstructed.

Connected Vehicles technology is still a few years away from production, but when it comes out, it will be affordable, as it is expected to cost no more than seat belts, Appel said.

Image by U.S. Department of Transportation, used under Fair Use: Reporting.


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