The Connected Car of the Future

What will the Automobiles of Tomorrow be Like?
If your car is currently equipped with an advanced driver assistance system, you are able to see what’s immediately around you and even what’s down the road.  But, hold onto your hat.  There’s a lot of work going on that enables “connected vehicles” to provide information on conditions farther down the road - while there’s still time to act.

Imagine your car is able to communicate to you that there’s ice ahead, or that there’s a traffic backup, or that there’s a fire engine a few miles back that’s approaching.

But that’s not all.  Cars may soon also be in communication with the other vehicles around them.

So, now, your car tells you that the car ahead of you is about to be involved in a crash.  And your car knows this because the soon-to-crash car just told it so.  Your car will warn you to slow down – or even do it for you automatically.

Far-Fetched? Not Really.
Automakers, technology providers, research institutes and the Federal government are all working together to develop vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications.  One key short-term goal is a real-world benefit assessment, currently underway in Anne Arbor, Michigan that the government will consider in 2013 when it decides whether V2V systems should be added to safety features built into our cars.  Similar initiatives are also underway in Europe.

Hands-Free Driving!
Things are happening outside of academia and government, too.  Have you heard about Google’s “Driverless Car”?  In August, Google’s “self-driving car project” made a major announcement:  about a dozen of their test vehicles had made it more than 300,000 miles without a single accident…all under computer control.

Google’s autonomous car can sense its environment and navigate on its own.  A human may choose a destination, but is not required to perform any mechanical operation of the vehicle.

While Google has no immediate plans to commercially develop the system, the company hopes to develop a business that will market the system and the data behind it to automobile manufacturers.

According to Google’s Engineering Lead, Chris Urmson, on Google’s official blog, “Technology is at its best when it makes people’s lives better, and that’s precisely what we’re going for with our self-driving project.  We’re using advanced computer science to try and make driving safer and more enjoyable.”

Sources:  ABI Research, AT&T

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