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Cars of the Future Will Talk to Each Other and Help Save Lives, Says NHTSA

First Posted: Feb 04, 2014 07:39 PM EST

It's not the same as Google's autonomous car, but a new initiative spearheaded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced Monday aims to have cars talk to each other in order to improve safety conditions on the road.

Dubbed "vehicle-to-vehicle" (V2V) communication, the technology will only add a couple of hundred dollars extra to the cost of a car. In return, V2V should improve on-road safety as cars exchange information about speed and position at a rate of ten times per second. V2V does not require additional camera and radar technology, and instead relies on data from standard GPS devices.

"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," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.

"By helping drivers avoid crashes, this technology will play a key role in improving the way people get where they need to go while ensuring that the U.S. remains the leader in the global automotive industry."

V2V technology is not the same as another future car concept: the self-driving car. V2V still involves a human driver, but hopes to promote awareness of road conditions around the driver with information from other cars. For instance, one car might let another one behind it know that the driver has hit something and that it should break. Or that a driver ran a red light. In essence, some could view it as a car tattling on its driver constantly.

According to Department of Transportation (DOT) research involving both real-world and controlled test situations, V2V can help stem up to 80 percent of accidents involving two or more vehicles.

"V2V crash avoidance technology has game-changing potential to significantly reduce the number of crashes, injuries and deaths on our nation's roads," said NHTSA Acting Administrator David Friedman.

"Decades from now, it's likely we'll look back at this time period as one in which the historical arc of transportation safety considerably changed for the better, similar to the introduction of standards for seat belts, airbags, and electronic stability control technology."

The NHTSA intends to release a research report in later this month showcasing data gathered through a year-long pilot program launched in August 2012 in Ann Arbor, Mich. involving 3,000 test V2V vehicles. Automakers Audi, BMW, Ford, General Motors, Honda, and Toyota are all developing V2V technology for future implementation.

"We are pleased with the direction NHTSA is taking in terms of V2V technology," said Greg Winfree, Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology. "The decision to move forward comes after years of dedicated research into the overwhelming safety benefits provided by a connected vehicle environment."

You can read a hands-on article on V2V from Fox News here.

According to data from Qualcomm, it would take around 15 years or more to equip at least half of the cars in the United States with V2V technology.

"Today's announcement turns research into action," Winfree said. "Automotive technology has been about surviving crashes, but in the future, it will be about preventing them."

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