Test of interacting cars set to begin

Detroit Free Press


Motorists in Ann Arbor, Mich., have a chance to change the future of the auto industry and significantly reduce fatalities from car accidents.

A portion of the city will be the setting for the world’s largest field trial to test the ability of cars to “talk” to one another and their surroundings to prevent accidents.

Wireless devices will be installed in the vehicles of almost 3,000 people who regularly drive in northwest Ann Arbor. Wi-Fi access also will connect buses, commercial trucks, traffic lights and road signs to transmit and receive data 10 times a second about every participating vehicle’s location, speed and direction in a bid to keep them from colliding.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood was in Ann Arbor on Tuesday to mark the launch of the $25 million safety project, overseen by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute in partnership with the U.S. Department of Transportation.

“Today is a groundbreaking day for American innovation,” LaHood said.

UM’s Transportation Research Institute has 3,500 volunteers so far and needs only 2,865, said director Peter Sweatman. Chosen participants must have wireless devices installed in their vehicles. The first 500 connected vehicles hit the road three weeks ago, and in October, the full fleet will be in operation.

The project will gather data for a full year and is expected to result in future safety regulations mandating wireless connectivity by 2020 if the results show this to be the next frontier in drastically reducing traffic fatalities.

Copyright 2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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