As automotive technology advances, vehicles are more “aware” of their surroundings than ever before. With cameras, sensors, computers and the help of GPS, today’s cars can even be self-driving. So what’s next? It only makes sense that cars will begin to communicate with each other. Let’s find out more.
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Scenarios To Consider
Even with the best sensors and cameras, today’s most advanced vehicles have limitations. For example, if another vehicle on the road is shielded (by a wall or hedge, for example), the car’s sensors may not detect the other car. Physical obstruction could possibly block any sensor, even radar or ultrasound.
Also, variations in light can trick sensors. One example was the recent fatal crash of a Tesla driver while using the car’s autopilot mode. The crash occurred when the vehicle’s visual sensors failed to detect a large white tractor trailer in front of a bright sky.
If cars could communicate with each other, these types of accidents could potentially be avoided. Car-to-car communication allows vehicles to broadcast position, speed, steering wheel position and even braking status. If another vehicle is nearby, other cars could be alerted regardless of physical obstructions or light patterns.
Car-to-car communication could have other applications as well, such as improving traffic flow. And, as far as safety is considered, NHTSA researchers estimate that inter-car communication could prevent more than half a million accidents and over 1,000 fatalities in the US every year.
One of the current limitations to this technology is adoption. For example, BMW is rolling out vehicle-to-vehicle (v2v) communicating cars, but at this time very few cars on the road are equipped to respond. However, as time goes on this feature is likely to become standard. In the meantime, it may be feasible for programmers to develop cell phone apps that could at least transmit vehicle position. However, even this type of innovation would only be beneficial if widely adopted.
Some may argue that this level of connectivity could be detrimental to privacy. If your vehicle’s position is constantly broadcast, someone could abuse this information. However, this is really not very different from cell phones today. The cost and maintenance associated with this technology may become a factor as well.
Car-to-car communication technology is winning converts across many sectors of the automotive industry. There’s even talk that this kind of system could become mandatory due to the significant potential safety advantages. Car warranties and extended vehicle protection plans may provide the best hedge against expensive tech repairs associated with new complex technologies.
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