Talking cars expected to roll out in coming years are projected to save $500 billion in crashes and damages says Morgan Stanley analysts. Three years after the announcement from Google that they had managed to construct a car that could drive itself in real world conditions, the National Traffic Highway Safety Administration has begun to outline plans that will require all cars on the road to include a system to allow them communicate with each other. The information shared will include position and speed via GPS, as well as distance from other vehicles and any upcoming obstacles. Eventually the system will expand to infrastructure elements such as signs and stop lights as sensors are embedded in them to allow communications between vehicles and roads.
To comply with the new regulations, cars rolling off the line will have a system integrated into their electronics that will tap into a small portion of the radio spectrum. Transponders in each vehicle will be tuned to this frequency and allow cars to send and receive information from other nearby vehicles. Updates will be given as fast as ten times a second depending on traffic density and speed. The NHST has not said that the system will make any decisions for drivers such as applying the brakes or adjusting the steering, as some advanced cars already do, but simply warn the driver of oncoming obstacles they may have missed, such as parked cars with open doors or someone running a red light. Initial plans to implement the new system have not mentioned self driving cars, but a network of communicating vehicles is the first step in taking drivers out of the equation and allowing the cars to do all the work. With talking cars expected to roll out in coming years, older vehicles will be able to take advantage of the added benefits through a kit containing all the necessary components that can be easily integrated into the vehicles electronics systems.
Those worried that the fancy new systems needed for cars to speak to each other will be prohibitively expensive need not worry, as the price is expected to be no higher than an extra hundred dollars on top of the price of a new car. And with many new cars nearly being prohibitively expensive themselves, the ability to keep the investment of a new vehicle safer than an unaided driver should be seen as a boon rather than an extra cost. Now that a decision has been reached requiring talking cars expected to roll out in coming years, many feel that it is the next big safety innovation, right up there with seat belts, airbags, and electronic stability control. There are of course purists who feel that driving should be done by the driver, but as roads continue to become more congested across the world, and flying cars still a flight of fancy, commuters, delivery drivers, and even pedestrians stand to benefit from a little extra help from the machines that get us where we need to be.
By Daniel O’Brien