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Ford's intelligent vehicle technology safety system (Yo... Ford's intelligent vehicle technology safety system (YouTube).
The auto industry is moving closer to deploying technology into vehicles that could go a long way to making vehicle crashes, at least serious ones, mostly a thing of the past. That's right. The industry that fought against making seat belts standard, is marching toward creating the ultimate safe car without the hammer of regulation coming down on it.

Automotive technology has advanced so rapidly in the last decade that, every time something new comes along, it seems like "the future" becomes a lot less distant.

And many of these technologies were once regarded as so futuristic that they seemed like something out of science fiction.

One of those formerly-"science-fiction" technologies presently in development does indeed seem like something we would have seen in "Blade Runner."

In this case, we're talking about an advanced "intelligent vehicle" safety system that would essentially allow vehicles to "talk" to each other. Car makers have been working on the system for about decade, but engineers say that they could be introduced into production models as early as 2015. Although, it's also possible that it could be more like 2020.

Still, it's a fascinating advance, and one that holds great promise for other related technologies that would benefit drivers immeasurably.

In the last few months, Ford and General Motors have held public demonstrations of these intelligent-vehicle systems in action.

In late January, Ford conducted a demonstration in Washington for journalists and Department of Transportation staffers. And GM's Electronic Networked Vehicle concepts made their North American public debut at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, also in January, after spending six months being big attractions at the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai.

And the development of this technology is a team effort, with several carmakers joining forces to shepherd it along. Presently, Ford, GM, Honda, Mercedes, Toyota, Nissan, VW/Audi and Hyundai-Kia are members of a consortium that has set up shop in suburban Detroit, sharing offices, labs and a few garages for their testing. The consortium – dubbed Crash Avoidance Metrics Partnerships (CAMP) -- is funded in part by the Department of Transportation.

As part of the CAMP project, each of the eight carmakers in the consortium will build eight new vehicles equipped with this technology. And another 2,000 vehicles on the road will be retrofitted with the system as part of a test program that will also be partly funded by the DOT.

The intelligent vehicles will essentially use advanced WiFi signals and GPS systems that will send out multiple messages per second to "warn" other drivers – or, the vehicles themselves – of a potential crash. The messages transmit data about the vehicle's location, speed, brakes, steering and other key data that would help the vehicles avoid a collision.

In these intelligent vehicles, the first line of warning would alert the driver. But if the driver does not respond, the system would actually "take over" and apply brakes, or adjust the vehicle's direction.

Primarily, the intelligent-vehicle technology will focus on avoiding collisions by preventing a vehicle from changing lanes, coming up too fast behind a stalled vehicle, or entering an intersection if the light has turned red – or if another driver has run a red light or stop sign.

When the carmakers first began working on the system, the Federal Communications Commission allocated "a specific advanced radio-frequency spectrum for the system to use" explains Mike Shulman, technical leader for Ford Research and Advanced Engineering. "That's a big deal, because spectrum is very valuable.

"When we started, our thinking was, 'Let's take a look at this and understand how it would work," says Shulman. "At first, we sent out small packets of data to see how it would be received at the other end, and were very encouraged by the results, so we began to build up more advanced applications."

The way it works, says Shulman, is that one intelligent-vehicle system sends out info to other vehicles – and even to traffic-signal systems – that say "here's where I am, here's where I'm going, here's how fast I'm going. And, at the same time, your vehicle is receiving similar messages from other vehicles all around you."

Currently, many vehicles are equipped with crash-avoidance technologies that rely on radar systems that are either situated in the front or back of the vehicle.

But the intelligent-vehicle technology has an advantage over radar, says Shulman, in that "it provides 360-degree coverage – it delivers much more information than radar, which is better at measuring distance and velocity. Plus, the cost is relatively low, because it's built off of existing WiFi and GPS technologies."

The system will also detect conditions in problematic situations, like along a curvy road, when a driver cannot visibly detect an oncoming car, or communicate to other drivers that there is black ice on the road.

Working in conjunction with other carmakers is a key, says John Capp, GM's director of safety innovation and active safety – and chairman of the CAMP consortium.

"Obviously, there are many different cars out on the roads, made by different manufacturers, so for this to work, we have to develop it together, to make sure that a General Motors vehicle can communicate with a Ford, or a Toyota can communicate with a Honda, and so on," says Capp.

When this technology first makes it into production models, "we'll have a situation where some models will have it, and some won't," says Capp. "So, at the beginning, it's going to be more of an alert-and-warning system – getting information to the driver so he can take whatever action he needs to in order to avoid a crash.

"Then, as it's introduced into more and more vehicles, the system will become more involved in electronically controlling the vehicle's steering, braking, and speed."

In an effort to throw a spotlight on the new technology, the carmakers will hold driving clinics this summer, to give consumers a "hands-on' experience with the vehicles.

"We're looking forward to that," says Capp. "We're eager to get people into these intelligent vehicles, so everyone can see them operate in a real-world situation, on real roads – and so that drivers can see how valuable this kind of safety technology can be."


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  • 299 Comments
      • 3 Years Ago
      All I can say is Big brother is watching you! Glad to say soon Goodbye world Goodbye!
      raal246
      • 3 Years Ago
      I can see it now- well sir, your car computer has inputs from radar, ambient temp, relative humidity, solar irradiation, road surface temperaure, road friction coeficient, octane rating, percent alcohol in gas (or driver), spark advance, brake fluid level, airbag sensor, rear view mirror sensor, seat sensor for driver's weight, GPS input, crank sensor, EGR inputs, oil level sensor, and transmission speed sensor. ALL THOSE MUST BE REPLACED to cure your problem. Cost: $35,000 plus 20% for the UNION pensions! Then, car goes to BUBBA- shade tree mechanic, and he says: Fuel Filter clogged - $8 at Wal mart! problem solved!
      • 3 Years Ago
      i think it a good thing
      kayo1025
      • 3 Years Ago
      This is an excellent idea. I was hit twice within 3 months, and this type of technology would have prevented both accidents. Not to mention all of the angry arrogant drivers out there who actually believe the rest of the world is in their way. If it works, maybe our insurance premiums will go down?
      Andi
      • 3 Years Ago
      The insurance companies are gonna cry if this ever works. And then they'll follow by jacking up the rates on everything else.
      Mastermod
      • 3 Years Ago
      I welcome technology,it is the future.This is not for the times we are living in now. We the people must not allow the Government to keep expanding. There are many things that can be done to help our citizens that don't cost Billions and won't raise taxes.This technology is a good first step starting place but it does not Belong on the streets of today or the next 10 years. The most important things that should be worked on now is the safty,security and well being of our citizens.
      Dan
      • 3 Years Ago
      AND IF YOU BUY A TOYOTA YOU WILL ALSO BE ABLE TO GLOW IN THE DARK. WAY TO GO JAPAN FOR BUILDING ALLYOUR NUKE PLANTS YOU SHOULD HAVE LEARNED SOMETHING FROM WORLD WAR TWO. I DO NOT CARE ABOUT THE REST OF THE WORLD YOU BLEEDING HEARTS AS IT IS TIME TO TAKE CARE OF OUR OWN LEGAL UNITED STATES CITIZENS. NOT A TEA BAGGER OR A LEFT WINGNUT AS BOTH PARTIES ARE THE REASON THIS COUNTRY THE UNITED STATES IS IN THE SHAPE IT IS IN WHICH IF WE DO NOT START PUTTING TARIFS ON PRODUCTS SO HIGH THAT IT WILL FORCE THE COMPANIES TO BUILD THEIR PRODUCTS IN THE UNITED STATES WE WILL BECOME A THIRD WORLD COUNTRY OF FAST FOOD RESTURANTS . IF YOU DO NOT UNDERSTAND THIS PRESS ONE FOR ENGLISH AND START BUYING PRODUCTS MADE IN THE US
      zigzigsputnik
      • 3 Years Ago
      Can they implant deer with this technology?
      whiskyworm
      • 3 Years Ago
      and the google self driving cars will end drunk driving
      • 3 Years Ago
      Hello
      • 3 Years Ago
      hello whats next ?
      mackfleetwood25
      • 3 Years Ago
      CARS ARE GETTING TOO HIGH TECH WE ALL KNOW HOW RELIABLE ELECTRONICS ARE . THIS IS ABOUT GOVERNMENT CONTROL OVER WHAT YOU DO THROUGH YOURE MONEY . REPAIRS FOR THESE CARS IS TO GREAT FOR THE COMMON MAN TO AFFORD . MORE SHOULD BE DONE ON THE BEHALF OF THE CONSUMMER TO PROTECT THEM AGAINST AUTO MAKERS TO INSURE THAT THEY ARE GETTING QUALITY INSTEAD OF QUANITY. THEY PUSH THESE CARS OUT THE DOOR ONLY TO FIND THAT THEY HAVE MANY RECALLS DEFECTIVE PARTS AND JUST CHEAP MANUFACTUREMENT SOLD AT A VERY HIGH PRICE . TO PROVE MY POINT AUTO INSURANCE WENT TO FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO INCORPERATE SAFTY FEATURES SUCH AS AIR BAGS TO SO INSURANCE COMPANYS WILL HAVE LESSS PAYOFFS ON MEDICAL BECAUSE THEY KNOW JUST HOW CHEAP THE CAR IS BUILT .GOVERNMENT WENT ALONG WITH THIS FORCING EVERYONE TO HAVE AUTO INSURANCE BECAUSE OF TAXES AND PAY OFFS BY INSURANCE COMPANIES. WHO PAYS THAT BILL WE DO . INSURANCE SHOULD BE A CHOICE NOT FORCED ON PEOPLE BY GOVERNMENT WHEN THIS HAPPENS IT IS COMMUNISIM . BUT THE IDIOTS IN AMERICA DO NOT SEE IT THIS WAY THEY ONLY LOOK AT THE RED WHITE AND BLUE AND TRUST A GOVERNMENT THAT HAS ALREADY SOLD THEM DOWN THE TUBE . WE FREE THE WORLD AND OUR GOVERNMENT MAKES SLAVES OF US FOR THEM . YOURE FREEDOM OF CHOICE IN THIS COUNTRY IS GONE SEIG HEIL
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