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Chatty cars to cut road deaths?

2014-02-05 08:11

HELLO THERE! The US auto industry has been given a green light to use vehicle-to-vehicle communications that allow vehicles to exchange position data - the example above is from Toyota. Image: Toyota

WASHINGTON - It might sound like the stuff of sci-fi movies but vehicles traveling on US roads will soon be able to "talk" to one another to prevent collisions.

US regulators on January 3 2014 agreed to the use of vehicle-to-vehicle communication technology that can exchange data such as speed and position to avoid each other.

US transportation secretary Anthony Foxx, announcing the approval, said: "Vehicle-to-vehicle technology represents the next generation of auto-safety improvements, building on the life-saving achievements we've already seen with safety belts and air bags.

"This technology will play a key role in improving the way people get where they need to be while ensuring that the US remains a leader in the global automotive industry."

'LAYERS OF SECURITY'

Approval follows a test project begun in 2012 in which vehicles equipped with wireless devices were used to warn their driver about specific hazards such as an impending collision at a blind junction or a hidden parked car.

The technology is also said to be able to prevent rear-end collisions, dangerous lane changes and road-crossing crashes but does not include technology such as automatic braking or steering.

The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it was finalising its analysis and would publish a report for public comment with the intention of establishing rules for the new technology.

The agency said the systems would include "several layers of security and privacy protection" to ensure that vehicles could rely on messages sent from other vehicles.

'NEXT GIANT LEAP'

NHTSA acting administrator David Friedman said: "Decades from now, it's likely we'll look back at this time as one in which (vehicle) safety was considerably changed for the better, similar to the introduction of standards for seat belts, airbags and electronic stability control."

Scott Belcher of the Intelligent Transportation Society of America, a trade group, welcomed the announcement.

"While the auto industry has made great strides in reducing deaths and injuries the next giant leap will be to enable communication between vehicles and the world around them so crashes can be avoided."
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