US to drive 3,000 Wi-Fi linked vehicles in massive crash avoidance trial

DOT wants technology to help drivers avoid crashes

The US Department of Transportation said it will run a massive road test of cars, trucks and buses linked together via WiFi equipment in what the agency says will be the largest test of automated crash avoidance technology to date.

The test will be conducted by the University of Michigan's Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI), and feature mostly volunteer participants whose vehicles have been outfitted with vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communication devices that will gather extensive data about system operability and its effectiveness at reducing crashes, the agency said.

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The test will feature nearly 3,000 cars, trucks and buses equipped Wi-Fi technology that will let the vehicles "talk" to each other in real time to help avoid crashes and improve traffic flow in the test area around Ann Arbor, Mich.

The DOT said that the test comes on the heels of a study it did earlier this year that found 82% of drivers  "strongly agreed that they would like to have vehicle-to-vehicle safety features on their personal vehicle. In addition, more than 90% of the participants believed that a number of specific features of the connected vehicle technology would improve driving in the real world, including features alerting drivers about cars approaching an intersection, warning of possible forward collisions, and notifying drivers of cars changing lanes or moving into the driver's blind spot."

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According to DOT's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), V2V safety technology could help drivers avoid or reduce the severity of four out of five unimpaired vehicle crashes. To accomplish that goal, the model deployment vehicles will send electronic data messages, receive messages from other equipped vehicles, and translate the data into a warning to the driver during specific hazardous traffic scenarios. Such hazards include an impending collision at a blind intersection or a rear collision with a vehicle stopped ahead, to mention a couple.

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