The U.S. Dept. of Transportation believes this technology will cut out around 80% of serious crashes on the roadways of the U.S.
The idea of autonomous vehicles has been floated for years and isn't necessarily a revolutionary idea. As companies such as BMW get closer and closer to this type of game-changing technology, the U.S. Department of Transportation has taken notice and has jumped the gun trying to implement these new technologies for use on roadways around the U.S. MIT's Technology Review just ran a terrific report on the University of Michigan's involvement in testing of what could possibly be the future of travel.
With the idea of safety and warning systems, the DOT plans on developing a system that can give cars the ability to communicate to each other. This would allow for very early warning systems that will replace the ones currently found on high-end vehicles. The system will be much more sophisticated than the current sensors and warnings that indicate drivers drifting on roadways, objects or vehicles in the cars blind spot and the short range sensors that help recognize objects in the rear of the car (for parking purposes, etc).
In August, the DOT gave the University of Michigan's Transportation Research Institute a $14.9 million dollar check to further test and work on what is currently known as vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-infrastructure communication. They use short-range radio communication to allow cars to send signals and messages to each other indicating speed, position and other information vital to recognizing where they are on the road. The short-range radios will alert the driver when it is unsafe to pass and when someone is approaching an intersection at a high speed and won't stop, amongst other things.
Not only will the cars communicate to each other, but they will also communicate to a traffic grid transmitting signals to other motorists on the roadways. The large-scale testing will use eight different vehicles from automakers and 64 out of the 3,000 vehicles will be equipped with the radio communication devices. The rest of the vehicles will use signal-transmitting devices. Scheduled for a full year run, they will collect all the information they can about driving patterns, speed both cruising and turning and much more.
This project is being conducted by the U.S. Department of Transportation, the University of Michigan and eight major automakers. Volunteers for the project will come from the University of Michigan's medical center. It has been in development since 1995.